Today we are going to talk about three things to automate right now to supercharge your marketing efforts and two things to not automate and make sure you always avoid. So, let’s talk a little bit about digital marketing automation: why, are we even talking about this for one? Well, finding opportunities for automating your digital marketing efforts is a good way to boost effectiveness, it saves time that otherwise you would be spending doing mundane tasks. We will talk about a lot of automation tips today, but the most important message to just keep in mind is that automation saves time, but it still requires a lot of guidance and a lot of input, we cannot adopt a set it and forget it type of model.
1. Performance Monitoring and Data Tracking
The first thing that you need to be automating right now is your performance monitoring and data tracking. To start, look at how you are pacing with your revenue and the PMS data. But tracking all this data all the time can be very time-consuming. Especially for each of you, as innkeepers, as business owners, finding ways to automate that reporting and that tracking is especially valuable. Not sure how to do that? No problem in this blog we walk you through two different recommendations for how to look at this information.
How to Create a Custom Alert in Google Analytics
- On the left-hand side, on the customization tab, you will go down to custom alerts
- Go ahead and click that button for manage alerts and then new alerts
- Once you do this, you can go ahead and create a ton of different kinds of alerts here. Let’s say you want one when your revenue decreases by more than 15% weekly and comparing week over week.
- Select the date range that you want to look at.
- Select email me if it does fall behind the parameter you have set, you can go in there and do this on different traffic segments.
- For this example, we will do all traffic, show me revenue, and decreases more than and put your percentage in there, for this example we’ll use 15%.
- Then you click save and automatically you will have a new custom alert set up where you’ll get an email every single time that your revenue falls below those parameters.
Have more questions about how to create a custom alert in Google Analytics? Check out this video.
The next type of marketing automation we want to walk you through is creating a saved report. Let’s say you are constantly looking at the same type of report in Google Analytics or doing a similar analysis; you’ll want to create a saved report, so you don’t have to manually click through all those filters and get the report set up each time you want to look at it.
How to Create a Saved Report in Google Analytics
- To create a saved report from scratch, navigate to your report. For this example, go to the source/medium (under Acquisition > All Traffic), which shows, traffic and all your metrics by different sources.
- So, let’s say you are looking at this report for a consistent period, maybe the year to date compared to last year. You can adjust the timespan in the upper right-hand corner.
- Next, maybe you want to look at revenue, go to the upper left-hand corner under “select a metric” you could also select any of the other metrics on this tab.
- Now you can select how often you would like to look at this report; in the upper-right hand corner, you could select day, week, or month.
- Finally, to save the report you go to the upper right-hand corner and click the save button and select a name that resonates with
That’s it! You now have a saved report that you can view anytime under the customization tab. If you have more questions about creating a saved report in Google Analytics check out this video. Once you’ve explored your Google Analytics if you have questions about how to interpret the data, feel free to request a free Google Analytics Analysis from the Q4Launch team.
Now, moving on to how to automate the monitoring of your SEO efforts. Raise your hand right now, if you’re guilty of pulling up one or two keywords and saying, “oh, no, I’m not in a certain particular spot,” or something’s not going well, or “I’ve fluctuated a spot or two, or “oh, I’m in the number one on this one keyword. So, I know I’m doing well?” From our experience in the industry, we know that these are common assumptions but that does not give you that full picture of what’s going on. What we recommend is setting up automated SEO reports and pulling data for your full, comprehensive SEO keyword rankings portfolio. One great tool for this is Google Search Console; this is a Google’s tool that automatically aggregates all your keyword rankings and different queries your site ranks for, what pages are ranking, how many clicks they are getting, how many impressions your pages get, and particular click-through rates for a keyword. Google Search Console is probably the best true source of data to use because of how comprehensive it is.
In addition to Google Search Console, SEM Rush is another great marketing automation tool that will help you monitor your SEO. SEM Rush automatically aggregates all your keyword rankings as well but also shows you keyword rankings over time.
You can see in this example; the number of keywords ranking is increasing over time. This tool also shows the keyword positions. This gives us a good, concise health indicator of overall how the site is doing, rather than continuously, manually thinking of keywords, and pulling them up, and looking at the search results.
Another way to monitor your site’s performance is with your PMS data, a lot of them have beautifully built automated reports that aggregate that data for you. For example, you may be able to create custom dashboards or set up a regular email notification with your report attached. However, while these reports can be great for a pulse check you need to understand the why behind those reports. For example, we set up that custom alert for when revenue decreases by over 15% compared to the previous week. But this data needs to be put into context; let’s say the previous week was, spring break so revenue was naturally higher than the average week, or there was a huge wedding block, and the property was fully booked. You of course need to know that context to dig in and figure out what is driving that performance. The big takeaway here is to make sure you don’t adopt a policy of set it and forget it because it’s important to understand the why so that we can take the next steps to correct or expand upon a current opportunity that we identify.
If you get overwhelmed by all of this data and need help interpreting it, we offer several free Digital Marketing Tools including a Google Analytics Analysis.
2. Lead Nurturing
Whether you are prospecting to a particular guest or homeowner, inventory prospects to build up your portfolio, you need to make sure you have a plan to consistently nurture those leads and consistently follow up. Consistently is the keyword here. Oftentimes people will have a list of prospects then go ahead and email the list one time and you kind of get what you get from that email. There is nothing wrong with that strategy, but that strategy can’t live alone. There needs to be another layer there and that is what we will talk about next.
Before we dive in though, we have a few quick tips for things to automate with regular emails. The first you can do is scheduling those emails to be sent in advance so you do not have to remember to log on and manually send them. Secondly, we know that personalization is incredibly powerful when people receive emails. So, finding ways to automate that through your email platform, such as putting in a parameter to pull in somebody’s name or their business name.
Now pivoting to that, email marketing automation for lead nurturing. This is a whole series of automation campaigns; you build on a platform such as Active Campaign. Once built, this automation will be triggered by certain events. For example, let’s say somebody fills out a newsletter sign-up, or they engage with a lead generation element that’s on your website. If you have an automation setup, this lead will get a series of emails aimed at helping them through the guest lifecycle. We have talked before about the seven stages of the guest’s life cycle: dreaming, selecting, booking, preparing, staying sharing after your stay, and then returning. This is all about that email automation sequence is all about hitting the right person at the right time with the right message. Email automation is an important part of every marketing plan to have that component to grow leads and engage those leads to drive conversion.
3. Upgrade Automations
So, what about after a guest has booked? So, what to do while they are there, when to come, where to stay, what kind of offers do we want to offer them ahead of time? It’s marketing around extending your stay or stay add-ons, perhaps there is a spa or a tour that they can book. Another example could be if they are coming to a vacation rental property, if there is a house nearby you could offer the guest that as an upgrade.
Once the guest is on the property, you can be sending a series of to get a pulse check or request that they leave you a review. Additionally, they are already there, they are enjoying it, they’re experiencing it, try sending the guest an email about extending their stay. Another opportunity to upsell is to show the guest onsite activities and dining options via email automation. After they stay, you could send them a rebooking offer to expedite that guest lifecycle to the return phase. The guests’ stay can also be followed up with an automation with a survey to get feedback, another review request, and gathering any other information about the guest such as birthdays and anniversaries that may aid in future campaigns for rebooking.
Q4Launch built an entire product around the guest lifecycle because there’s a lot of value to be captured there. Our Guest Lifecycle Automation tool is a series of automations set on the guests’ pre-arrival, arrival, departure, and then the rebooking stage. In total there are 14 different touchpoints and messages that we have identified and that we will be continuously working on nurturing to add value throughout the stay.
What Not to Automate
We also wanted to share two things to never automate or automate with extreme caution and oversight.
It is easy to waste money in PPC and a lot of times what we see is people who adopt a set it and forget it model, which means if they’ve got a certain match type on a keyword and all of a sudden your brand showing up for some keywords that are completely irrelevant or not on brand, or let’s say you don’t have the right bidding parameters set into place and you’re just blowing your budget, that is a recipe for disaster. If you think that you might be at risk for this, look at what your return on ad spend is. The industry average is about a 3-5x return and Q4Launch customers tend to see a 7-10x return, and for some of our vacation rental customers, that is closer to 17x.
2. Content Creation
The other thing to avoid automating is content creation. I am sure we have all come across an article that maybe doesn’t quite read work, right. There is a lot of technology out there to help you automate your content creation and it’s just not quite there yet and needs a lot of heavy editing. There are elements of content creation that you can automate, such as, idea generators; if you are stuck and are not quite sure what good SEO keywords might be you can use the “related searches” feature at the bottom of Google search results. But again, you still need to research and make sure that there is enough keyword volume there to make it worth writing content about.
The moral of the story here in terms of marketing automation is that you need to be constantly reviewing data, testing new things, and iterating. You cannot set it and forget it because what has worked before may not continue to work and you need to be tweaking that strategy.
Need help navigating the different options for managing your marketing strategy? We are happy to help and just have a conversation about what that could look like. Give us a call at 843-606-1990