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Maximum Return on Limited Marketing Resources

It's the classic conundrum, isn't it? We know we need to market to raise awareness of our brand, or to simply be found by those searching for lodging in your area. But resources are very limited, so you need to get the maximum return on limited marketing resources. Time and Money [caption id="attachment_896" align="alignright" width="300"] Vacancy on the loop by C X 2 on flickr[/caption]But it isn't only about limited financial resources. It is about time, too. You can hear the advice to do dozens of things to be sure you show up well in search engines - keep your content fresh, use the right keywords, update your titles, write weekly blog posts, etc., etc., etc.! Then there is social media. You have a Facebook page and you post frequently and interact with guests (if anyone ever responds!). You have a Twitter account. And an Instagram account. You sometimes post there, too. You have a YouTube channel, but who knows how to post videos? That's not to mention all the usual B&B directories where you've paid to be listed. Ordinary Results Is it enough? What do your Google Analytics (or Intell-A-Keeper, or, or, or...) statistics show? They usually show that your number one source of bookings is Google, then TripAdvisor and/or some of the paid B&B directories. What else? Where is the result of all that effort? Where is your blog? Where is Social Media? Typically they are almost invisible. I saw an innkeeper post (with great excitement!) on a forum in the past few weeks that they had finally received their very first booking from Facebook. This after years of being involved. So, let's see, several years of effort yields a night or two booking. Is that the "maximum return on limited marketing resources" you were looking for? Changing…

Tracking Revenue by Referral Source – Google Analytics

An innkeeper who attended one of my Google Analytics talks at the PAII conference in Las Vegas earlier this year wrote to ask how to track average revenue by referral sources on RezOvation (he didn't say, but we'll assume RezOvation GT, at this point). The steps given here are specific to RezO GT, but the basic approach is the same for any booking engine. The primary difference is the way you would enable GA tracking and Ecommerce tracking on your booking engine. The innkeeper wanted to use average costs, so at the end we mention the way to set that up with Goals. However, using Ecommerce tracking is much more effective, as it will use actual transaction values. There are a few steps to be done with RezOvation to make it track across their booking platform. You may have done some of these already - depending on where things stand so far. Consider this sort of a checklist: 1. In RezOvation GT's (I'm assuming you're using GT - if you're using RezO Web it may be a bit different - older RezO products, like RezO Desktop may not work entirely), in the Configuration/Settings for the System (I can't recall if it is called General or System, or whatever), find the Booking Engine Settings, and make sure you put your Google Analytics ID number in the box. While you're there, click the box to turn on Ecommerce Tracking, too (if you do this, you'll need to go to your Admin settings in GA and check the box to indicate this is an Ecommerce site to see the Ecommerce reports). 2. On each web page you'll need to add a couple of lines to the JavaScript that calls Google Analytics. Basically you're telling GA to consider the RezO booking engine as if…

BBOnline Improving? Dubious for Most

Our recent posts wondering if our observed improvement in the number of referrals from BBOnline was a sign that the troubled directory was returning to its former status as one of the higher referring directories turns out not to have statistical support across the board. [pullquote]Far too many properties are seeing numbers that still appear to be in free-fall.[/pullquote]We asked other innkeepers to provide stats showing traffic changes for specific dates (just so we would all be looking at the same numbers). Quite a few innkeepers shared their numbers, and others were shared (anonymously) by consultants in the industry. To recap, our Bed & Breakfast in Freeport Maine had seen a drop of nearly 90% in traffic from BBOnline following their site redesign in the fall of 2011. Nearly all properties who responded to our posts at that time reported similar drops in referrals. Last month we reported that, in recent months, we had seen significant improvement in their numbers - not back to the former levels yet, but significant, all the same. We asked innkeepers to provide information to see if this was a universal improvement, or if the beleaguered directory was still in the doldrums. [pullquote]Fully half the properties responding found that their recent referrals from BBOnline had dropped to zero![/pullquote]The results we received provide a fascinating cross-section. Properties responding were from all over the USA (and, of course, some were anonymous, so we don't know anything about them). Nearly half the properties responding found that their recent referrals from BBOnline had dropped to zero! Still others had cancelled because of the declines, prior to the dates we examined. Of those still receiving traffic from BBOnline, slightly more than half are seeing increased traffic, while slightly less than half are still seeing significant declines. Overall, the average property…

BBOnline Update

Following last week's post about a possible recovery for BBOnline, we received a few emails with stats from other properties. So far the results are about evenly split, half the properties reporting have seen an increase in traffic from September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, similar to our own, while the other half have seen referrals from BBOnline continue to decline. That said, the jury is still out, as we need more data to determine whether anything meaningful is going on. If you're willing to anonymously share the change in your referrals from BBOnline over the period above, please email them to scott at abouttheinn.com, and we'll collect the information and share the results in a future post.

BBOnline – Could Things Be Looking Up?

Is there any new information on the decline in traffic from directory BBOnline? We've been interested to see if traffic from BBOnline has improved over time, since the huge decline observed beginning in November, 2011, and lasting about a year. If you haven't see the earlier discussion of the lost traffic (up to 90% drops, in some cases), just click on the "Directories" tab at the top of the page. Recently another property owner emailed to ask if there was any new information on BBOnline. That's normal, of course, as seasonal properties whose busy season is summer begin to get ready for the new year, and want to be sure they are spending their marketing dollars effectively. Checking Google Analytics for our Freeport, Maine B&B we found a pleasant surprise! In our stats, looking at September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, and comparing it with the previous year, we found that BBOnline's traffic had increased over 200% (other directories declined during the same period). Before we get too excited about that, the traffic had declined almost 90% the year before, so a 200% increase after that drop does not bring it back to its former levels. It does, however, return it to being competitive with other directories, and to a more acceptable level. Certainly, if this increase continues, we could see traffic from BBOnline getting back to the old "normal" as time goes on. Have you seen increases (or decreases) in your traffic from BBOnline? If you would like to help us provide more comprehensive information, please send an email to scott at AboutTheInn.com. We'll keep your information anonymous, but if we get enough to provide useful information, will include it in a post that updates this information.