How a New Website Can Help Your Traffic

Industry standards tell businesses that they should redesign their website every 2-3 years, and this is something InterCoastal Net Designs (ICND) highly recommends to our customer base. Modern design and programming tactics change so quickly, a website can easily become dated with in a few years. Not only may you be missing out on new technology by keeping the same site for 4 or more years, you might be missing out on traffic as well!

We have done a case study of a vacation rental client of ours. Sample client launched their first website with ICND in early 2010. The website was clean, modern for the time, and we even developed a mobile site where their guests could book online (which was relatively new technology in 2010). In 2013, we decided it was time for an upgrade. While a mobile site is great, a responsive website is even better. Instead of having 2 sites, you now have one which responds to the viewer’s device. It’s easier for updates, and Google also prefers it.  Computer screens are now wider than they were in 2010, so we designed the new site to be wider as well. We also assured that there was a prominent quick search box above the top fold. After all, the main goal of a vacation rental website is to get your viewers to search for a vacation rental, and ultimately book.

In the beginning of 2014, we started to see a hit in online traffic. This client had been on a steady marketing plan for years and there had been no major change in marketing strategy. We pushed to get the new website live, hoping that we would see a turn around in traffic and revenue upon launch. The new website went live in May of 2014. After 3 short months, we have seen some great increases! Now they are well above their numbers for 2013!

The image below shows their organic traffic for March 1 2014- August 13 2014 and March 1 2013- August 13 2013. The orange line shows 2013 traffic, the blue one shows 2014 traffic. You will notice that prior to the website launching, they were gaining less traffic this year than they had last. As soon as the website launched, 2014 traffic began to show as more than 2013.
Case_Study

 

 

 

 

Your website is the face of your company, so it is important to keep it up to date. Not only will it impress your viewers and potential customers, it will also impress the search engines, leading them to view you as the leader in your industry!

Ecommerce Tracking Shows Great Results

ICND is not only a website development and design firm, we also specialize in different avenues of online marketing. The below case study discusses one of ICND’s clients who increased their marketing efforts 6 months ago. It often takes more than 6 months to see drastic results, but this client chose to work with ICND on SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing and Email Marketing. All of our efforts worked together to show fantastic results!  This is a vacation rental client, who we have set up on Ecommerce Tracking with Google Analytics. With Ecommerce tracking you can see down to the penny what properties were booked and produced revenue, and what outlet the leads came in from.

# Source Revenue % of Revenue
1 google/organic $231,439.78 40.21%
2 direct $154,584.87 26.86%
3 bing/organic $60,343.33 10.48%
4 google/cpc $57,470.53 9.98%
5 yahoo/organic $40,071.67 6.96%
6 facebook.com/referral $4,930.91 0.86%
7 blu172.mail.live.com / referral $4,624.80 0.80%
8 aol/organic $4,486.81 0.78%

If you add together Google, Bing, Yahoo and Aol, you will see $336,341.59 in revenue from ICND Organic SEO Efforts.

They have converted $57,470.53 from their Pay Per Click Campaign

They’ve converted $4,930.91 from their Facebook campaign 

They’ve converted $4,624.80 from their email marketing campagin

This is of course not counting phone calls, which is often attributed to marketing efforts as well. And many of those direct leads (source #2) could have been coming from Facebook or other marketing sources. Marketing isn’t about just about converting online, it’s about putting your name in the back of people’s minds so when they’re ready to book, they find YOU!

Unfortunately, this client did not have ecommerce tracking on their site prior to 6 months ago, so we cannot compare this year’s online revenue to last years. However, we can tell that their traffic is up 22.33% from this same time last year (comparing 1/1/13-3/3/13 to 1/1/14-3/3/14). They’ve had over 6,000 more visitors on their site this year than last!

Ecommerce Tracking

 

If you’re a current ICND client, talk to your account rep and make sure you are set up on Ecommerce Tracking or Goal Tracking. If you’re not an ICND client, contact us today for a free marketing analysis. This isn’t only for vacation rentals or retail sites. A “goal” can be as simple as someone filling out a contact form. If you don’t sell anything online, we still want to be able to track your leads and ecommerce and goal tracking are the perfect way to track this. Goal and Ecommerce tracking are a large part of ICND SEO efforts. It is important to not only see that you are getting traffic to your site, but also to see that the traffic is quality traffic that will convert to revenue.  Numbers don’t lie. With the right amount of time and revenue invested into your marketing plan, we can help you grow too!

One Year of SEO, Double the Traffic!

Ever wonder if SEO is worth while? ICND is here to show you how Search Engine Optimization can truly help your business grow! January 1 2014 marked the one year anniversary of one of our Wilmington, NC clients SEO plan with ICND. This client in particular is on a 12 hour per month plan. We compared their traffic from January 2013 to January 2014, and are very pleased with the results! Just as we expected, their traffic has drastically grown. In fact, it has near doubled what it was the prior year.  Please see below screen shot from Google Analytics showing traffic.

Search Engine Optimization

Our dedicated marketing team is hands on to help you and your company grow. If you’re interested in seeing similar results, contact your account rep or info@icoastalnet.com today to discuss our recommendations for you!

 

The Pragmatic Approach for Targeting Vacationer Demographics

The vacation rental industry is an 85 billion dollar industry with virtually every demographic planning a dream vacation, year after year. A majority of vacation rental managers often realize too late about vacant inventory. Focused solely on families (or vice versa) this late realization leads to last minute price slashing with mixed results. Wouldn’t it be nice each year to be ahead of the curve and guarantee a larger percentage of bookings?

Studies have shown (Framingham Heart Study) that men who regularly vacation are 32% less likely to die of heart related illnesses compared to men who do not take a regular vacation. What’s worse is that women who don’t vacation twice a year are 8 times MORE likely to suffer from a heart related illness. These studies reinforce the notion that happier, healthier people across the board, know that rest and relaxation are vital to their health.

The question is: are you capturing every demographic the correct way? 

Demographics

Today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to target specific demographics:

Facebook Targeted Ads– Facebook ads have come a long way in terms of targeting. Users of Facebook today are revealing more and more information within their own profiles that Facebook has tactfully gained access to who each user is. If one bedroom condos are a large part of your inventory still in stock, the ability to create an ad specifically toward those in relationships with less than 2 children as well as including the unmarried and married with less than 2 children, ensures that those in your target segment are the only ones who are viewing such an ad.

Facebook Post Targeting– Did you know you can cater a post to specific demographics? Much like Facebook ads, specific post targeting allows you to display certain posts to current fans that you wish to capture. Suppose there are a number of units you’d like to see booked for an upcoming weekend. Depending on your vacation rental price points, wouldn’t it make sense to target to those solely within a day’s drive? Creating a targeted post highlighting this facet has the potential to yield higher results.

Demographics

Segmented E-mails– Does your company use departure questionnaires? If not, it might be time to consider implementing them. Gathering as much information on former clients can help determine location, time of year and frequency of their vacation habits.

PPC– Google, the mother ship of all things related to targeting. It should be of no surprise that Google knows everything about you. Whether you use their browser, (Chrome) or simply use Google searches on a daily basis, the fact remains that they are keeping tabs on your search history and figuring out with great detail, who you are. The power of this information is outstanding. One of the tools marketers have at their hands is Pay Per Click Ads. Incorporating a well-timed and concentrated PPC campaign not only increases views but can also show you in a variety of facets where you may be failing in converting actual sales.

Demographic information is one of the most vital aspects to understanding your business. With comprehensive research within your own buyers’ history as well as carefully executed targeting measures, the ability to capture and retain audiences has never been stronger. Utilization of these targeting tools can propel your company’s overall performance.

Tracking Offline Vacation Rental Marketing with Google Analytics

As a company with lots of vacation rental clients, we’re well versed in methods that vacation rental managers use in their own marketing tactics, both online and offline. While we’re largely concerned with online visibility, we also are aware that many conversions, advertising and promotion happen offline. From phone call conversions to brand awareness and local advertising, many vacation rental managers are struggling to accurately measure all of their efforts. It’s something we see everyday.

For some industries, it’s pretty easy to measure advertising spend. With many companies only spending dollars on pay-per-click and other digital marketing efforts, they can track all their efforts in a analytics tracking suite like Google Analytics. For online-only businesses, digital ROI is pretty easy to measure.

However, we have found several tactics for vacation rental managers to keep their online and offline marketing data into Google Analytics. It’s a fairly simple tactic that involves using two primary methods: separate, short domains for advertising and landing pages.

Let me explain.

Most offline marketing campaigns are on print flyers, newspapers, billboards and many other avenues. Nearly all of these advertisements usually have your website in the bottom of the ad – and that’s impossible to track. People who visit by directing entering your website into their URL bar are counted as direct visitors, with no more information about where they came from available for you to see.

If your website does a few hundred or thousand direct visits per month, how can you tell if a new billboard or print ad caused that rise in traffic? You can’t. It all goes into Google analytics as direct website traffic and is no different than people who may have already known your brand or visited your site before. So, marketing managers, when it’s time to renew that billboard or print ad, how in the world can you tell if it worked?

Enter a vanity domain (or many vanity domains). A vanity domain is basically a shorter version (or just alternate version) of your website that you can control and measure easier when it’s only placed where you know about it. For example, if we used http://www.icnd.net as our only domain that we placed on a print ad that was sent to vacation rental managers, we’d know that anyone who used that domain came from that ad. We could then apply the secret sauce of this tactic (google analytics campaign variables) to find out in analytics exactly how many people arrived at our website from this ad.

Here’s the steps we’ll take to measure this:

  • Register a short domain (you can use an simple URL, but it has the downside of reducing the amount of people using it. For example, icoastalnet.com/offer or offer.icoastalnet.com).
  • With your hosting provider or with help from your IT department, redirect that URL using variables you input here to where you’d like that traffic to end up).
  • For example, if we want to measure an ad that we did for VRMA in a print magazine, we might use this:

“Intercoastal Net Designs is offering a free guide to using social media to grow your Vacation Rental business. Redeem this offer at icoastalnet.com/vrma.”

We’d redirect that domain using this tool here to the URL it outputs.

Then, when we take a look in our google analytics later to see how well the ad performed, we’ll know exactly how many people came in from this particular offer and ad. Grouping similar ads will tell us how well print ads did overall. For example, if you had three or four offers running for different causes/promotional offers, we could group them all together as print, but at the campaign name level, break them down into each particular advertiser or campaign.

This could look like this for different offers:


If we were to promote to Moz’s email list:

www.icoastalnet.com/moz


www.icoastalnet.com/moz?utm_source=moz&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Social%20Media%20Offer


If we were to promote our offer in a local newspaper ad:

www.icoastalnet.com/local


www.icoastalnet.com/local?utm_source=local&utm_medium=newspaper&utm_campaign=Social%20Media%20Offer


If we were to promote our download via Google display advertising:

www.icoastalnet.com/free


www.icoastalnet.com/free?utm_source=google&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=Social%20Media%20Offer


You get the point. So, in summary, using redirected URL’s are easy to track when you place them strategically on your various offline and online marketing efforts. With lots of ways to advertise your business out there, measuring your dollars spent is critical to maximizing your success.

Questions, comments or concerns? Contact me or anyone on the ICND team and we can help you out.

Big Google News: Not Provided Hits 100% & Hummingbird Update Announced

Summer is over and that means news and announcements in the SEO world are heating up. In the last few weeks Google has made some changes leaving many SEOs and marketers lamenting days gone by. Let's look at the announcements and what that means for us:

Not Provided Reaches 100%

Google has finally done it! The day many SEOs have feared is upon us. The day keyword referral traffic from "not provided" hits 100%. 

What's Going On?

If you weren't in the loop or haven't noticed the strange (not provided) keywords in Google Analytics, here's what's going on.
 
About 2 years ago, Google added a secure search option and started removing keyword referral data for users that were signed in. This meant that site owners would no longer be able to attribute exactly what keywords in Google were driving traffic. Originally, Google claimed that the number of searches that would be affected was going to be less than 10%. That number grew, however, and crept higher and higher.
 
This past week, Google announced that all searches will be secure. That means no keyword referral data will be reported through Google Analytics.

Why Did Google Do That?

Google's reasons for the switch are security, privacy, and user experience. They figure that not everyone wants their searches to be public or want their search history to be used by marketers.
 
The caveat here is that you can get full keyword data if you're running AdWords campaigns. Essentially Google is still offering the data, you just have to pay for it.

What Can I Do?

If you want to go back to the old days where you see full keyword data from Google, that's not going to happen. You do have a few alternatives that will give you a partial picture, though:
  • Check out keyword impressions in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Look at organic traffic to landing pages in Google 
  • Get an AdWords account 🙁

More Information

 

Google's Hummingbird Algorithm

The next major announcement is that of Google's new Hummingbird algorithm update. 

What is It and What Does It Do?

Hummingbird is Google's biggest algorithm update since the Caffeine update in 2009. At it's core, Hummingbird is Google updating the way it handles search queries to better deliver results in a conversational search context. Google is now analyzing all parts of a users search more closely to determine the context of the query and provide more accurate results.

How Does it Impact Me?

First of all, Hummingbird was actually rolled out in late August before Google's official announcement nearly a month later. If you saw any ranking or traffic fluctuations around August 21st through the 24th, you may have been affected by Hummingbird. Overall, the change went relatively unnoticed by most site owners and marketers.
 
Hummingbird is just the most recent move by Google to update their search technology to cater to mobile users. Conversational search favors the "ask a question" way of searching over the traditional keyword search because you're interacting with a device the same way you would another person. If you haven't already been thinking about how people will interact with your site on mobile devices, now is a great time to start. These changes show that Google is putting mobile user experience at the forefront of their search strategy.

More Information

ICND Spring 2013 Online Marketing Workshop Success!

If you didn’t go to our Spring 2013 Online Marketing Workshop in Myrtle Beach, SC, you missed out on a great time! The workshop was held at the ITT Technical Institute of Myrtle Beach where we found the space plentiful and staff very helpful. A big thanks to Courtney DePaul for her support of our workshop. We opened up the event with friendly registration by Summer Adams as she gave everyone an itinerary and USB key of all the presentations to take home.

Before entering the room, we invited our guests to participate in a fun photo booth prepared by our designer and photographer, Chris Campbell. Team ICND had fun with the photo booth as well. For more photos and fun check out our Facebook album and be sure to “Like Us”. As the sessions took place, we had great one-on-one interaction with our guests and speakers. It was a collaborative effort of presentations and Q&A. We hope to do more follow-up on the topics: SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email Marketing, and Responsive Web Design with additional whitepapers for download on our website. For more information, please visit our website www.icoastalnet.com or contact your Account Manager. by: Vanessa Humes

Clarion Hotel Pairs Up With ICND for Internet Marketing Campaign

When it comes to online marketing, having a strategy is key. However, if you’re not an internet marketing specialist it can be an overwhelming task. InterCoastal Net Designs is excited to announce their new partnership with the Clarion Hotel of Myrtle Beach. We recently launched not just one campaign for this well-reknowned hotel, but three! Clarion chose Pay Per Click, Social Media Marketing and a kick-off social media contest to stay at the top of mind of their client base.

We often tell our clients, if you want quick results, then PPC is the way to go! Our PPC specialists are experienced in managing accounts that result in ROI and high quality scores, and in the long run a projected lower Cost Per Click.

And if you’re still in the dark on social media, it’s safe to say your company is dropping the ball! We are excited to take over Clarion’s social media marketing and foster brand awareness and client engagement for our new client! ICND is also handling the ins and outs of a social media contest for Clarion. We recently saw one of our client’s company pages grow from around 1,500 fans to 40,000 in the span of a week! With Facebook’s current algorithm in place, this kind of growth ensures that your brand will be all over the Facebook newsfeeds of your potential clients. When it comes to the vacation rental industry, fans are engaged with scenic photographs and the promise of the perfect getaway and Facebook is the place to start dreaming! We can’t wait to see the results of the Clarion Myrtle Beach contest.

If you feel like your company isn’t getting the online attention it deserves, it’s time to nail down an online marketing strategy. Any combination of our services from SEO to social media will increase the visibility of your brand and the combination of campaigns is sure to bring home the bacon.

Thanks Clarion, ICND is thrilled to start this partnership which is sure to be a success!

Google+ Pages Allow Better User Engagement and Analytics Coming Soon!

There is no doubt that Google+ Pages are making a big splash in the internet marketing world, especially with it's increasing impact on search engine results.  The platform has definitely lacked something to be desired though in the minds of most marketers.  The level of engagement a page could have with users has been very limited, until NOW!

Google announced today that business pages now have the ability to engage with all users, even if they haven't added your business page to one of their circles! This is pretty huge for marketers trying to engage and target users by area, topic, keywords and more.

Another announcement was made today that Google+ will be releasing a new analytics platform soon.  This will be similar to Facebook's insights, but I wonder how it might be tied into Google Analytics.  This analytics platform is slated to be launched "in the coming weeks."

Google is poised to connect the dots better than any other company with the data they have from  Search, Chrome, Android and now Google+.

Google Analytics: Revenue Tracking and Evaluating Campaigns

Have you taken advantage of Google E-commerce tracking in Google Analytics.  It's a bit of code you have to insert onto your confirmation page after an order is processed that will recognize what was purchased and where it came from.  It really helps in evaluating your marketing campaigns if you are also using the Google URLs.

E-commerce Tracking through Google Analytics – How to Set it Up:

  1. Go into your analytics and click on the "Admin" section in the top right.
  2. Click the name of the account and the name of the property that has the profile that you want to enable ecommerce tracking for.
  3. Click the Settings tab
  4. Click "Yes, an E-commerce Site/App" under the E-commerce Settings section
  5. Click Apply

Now, before this will work, you need to set up and access your source code to apply the ga.js ecommerce tracking.  For more information about this click here.

Once you are tracking your revenue, you can now start to see how much you are generating from your traffic sources: organic, paid, referrals, direct, email marketing, social media, etc.  These are all already broken down in Google Analytics.  For specific campaigns, you may want to work with Google's URL builder.  This allows you to build out tracking URLs and tags for specific promotions to test your marketing.

Finally, you can evaluate your marketing based on ROI.  Using Google Analytics, use the E-commerce tab now available across most pages within your analytics.  You can see your conversion rate, your trafffic, time on site, etc.  After a year, you can compare campaigns from year to year.  You can even go in your paid and organic and see the value and conversion of keyword phrases.  For more information, call us at 1-866-249-6095 or email us at info@icoastalnet.com.