Vacation Rental Marketing Do’s and Dont’s

With so many SEO tools floating around the internet, it can be hard to understand what to believe. Raven, SEMRush, Moz and other similar tools have site audit features that crawl your website and spit out a list of items that are hindering your site’s performance.

With so many different issues highlighted by just one of the many site audit tools out there, getting your website optimized can seem like a daunting task. To help you better understand how to optimize your site and not waste time blindly following a third-party audit tool, we created a list of Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Marketing.

Digital Marketing Don’ts:

DON’T get caught up with the “perfect score”
Using a third-party site audit can be great start when looking for ways to improve your website. They can be provide valuable insight about issues and opportunities related to your site, but they should never be used as the be-all and end-all resource for site optimization. Good SEO always starts with good on-site content and a good user experience.

SEO and how to utilize the 80/20 rule in your digital marketingDON’T spend time on social media just promoting yourself (80/20 rule)
Social media is made to be just that- social. It’s not a platform to purely promote your rentals or specials, and should be used to create and monitor social interactions regarding your brand. The best way to balance this is by making 80% of your posts fun and engaging, while the other 20% can be promotional.

DON’T think you can manage your PPC campaign yourself without experience
There are so many ins-and-outs of PPC that it takes years of daily use to master. Without knowing which tools to use inside Google or Bing ads, you could be setting yourself up for a huge spend without a good return on investment. It’s best to leave stuff like this to the PPC experts.

DON’T buy links to your site or participate in linking farms
It’s not enough to just get as many links as you can to your website. Google also takes the quality of your referring domains into account when determining how you rank. Have too many questionable backlinks, and you might not even rank at all! Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that will hunt down toxic backlinks for you so that you can disavow them in Google Search Console.

DON’T upload photos or images straight from their source (camera, stock site, etc.)
The files needs to be compressed, sized appropriately and be given an appropriate meta description and file name. This affects many different aspects of SEO, and could be something that you’re missing out on.

DON’T use Headings (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) for their appearance
HTML is for content and headings help search engines easily understand page structure. If you’re looking to change the appearance of something on a page, your best bet is to utilize CSS, a styling language. Using HTML headings to change the appearance of a page element will massively impact how Google and other search engines see your page.

Digital Marketing Do’s:

DO spend time on your own website & look at competitors’ sites
Take a look at the functionality of your website from a user’s perspective. How useful is the site? How easy is the booking process? Now take a look at some of your competitors’ sites, how does your site stack up?

The power of visual content in SEO and digital marketing
source: coolerinsights.com/2015/02/visual-content-marketing-asian-insights/

DO spend time creating quality content
Creating quality content is a great way to build your brand and get a potential customer’s attention. It’s important to keep in mind that this content should be relevant to your business, deliver value to the consumer (entertainment, good information, etc…) and be more than just blocks of text. This means videos, photos, maps, illustrations, and other visual & interactive elements should all be part of your content strategy.

DO use Google My Business
And update it often! Google My Business has been around for years, but Google has recently put some serious time and effort into boosting its functionality. Make sure you take the time to completely fill out your profile with accurate information, photos, and create posts from time to time. Finally, encourage your customers to leave honest reviews on your GMB profile and reply to them. This will help your local SEO and even get you included in the local map pack.

SEO long-tail keywords, search volume, and conversion rates.DO target long tail keywords – it’s easier than you think
Sure, everyone wants to rank #1 for “<location> rentals.” However, spending time on a few lower-volume long tail keywords such as “<location> oceanfront home rentals” can bring in a ton of good traffic. Furthermore, if you have good quality content for a few long tail keywords, it boosts your ability to rank for “<location> rentals” because you are becoming an authority for all the different types of rentals in the area.

DO make sure your site is optimized for mobile
Back in July of 2018 Google announced that mobile page speed is now a ranking factor in mobile searches. See how your site performs on mobile, and learn what you can do about it.

DO make sure your website is HTTPS
Would you want to give your information to a non secure (HTTP) page? Google knows it’s not a good idea, and, as of July 2018, warns users if they’re visiting a site that isn’t secure. Oh, and it’s a ranking factor. Enough said.

DO establish the N.A.P. of your organization & standardize It
Having a million citations doesn’t do your company much good if your business name (N), address (A), and phone number (P) aren’t the same across the board. There’s plenty of great services out there that will monitor this for you.

Conference Travel Ahead: Q&A with Director of Fun, April Burns

ICND will soon be jet-setting for conference travel and we’re excited to say the least. In September we’re attending Streamline Summit and Rezfest, with VRMA International on the horizon in October. In preparation for September travel, we sat down with resident travel expert, April Burns. Come see us on the road!

On Conference Travel:

Q: What’s your favorite part about gearing up for conference travel? 

AB: It is an exciting time of the year when conference season approaches.  The energy in the office goes up as we work on new campaigns, swag and new products to showcase.

Q: What do you most enjoy while at the conferences?

AB: During a conference it is great to explore a new town and get to see the local sites, but in the end it is the opportunity to see current clients and meet new friends.  There is a core group of vendors that travel to these events and become your second family while you are on the road.  They are there to help in times of need and for a good laugh. We also have our usual attendees that come to each event.  Some of them may be your client, but some become friends that you get to see and catch up with each year.

Q: Tell us a bit about ICND’s conference theme for Fall travel.

AB:  Each season we love to come up with new theme and play off them for our swag and booth.  We have many VRM’s looking forward to our t-shirts every year and this year will not disappoint.  I think that might be all I can really say…but have you ever seen Better Call Saul(s)??

Q: What are your tips for keeping the conference energy in forward motion after returning to the office/daily routine?

AB: It is important for your team feel the energy when you return to the office. They enjoy hearing about the trip, the people and a little swag for them definitely helps!  I have also found that if you take time to make a list on your return trip it will help you stay focused and energized

There is a core group of vendors that travel to these events and become your second family while you are on the road.

-April Burns, Account Executive

On Streamline Summit:

Q: Is this your first Streamline Summit?

AB: This will be ICND’s second Streamline Summit and I have been fortunate to attend both of them.   

Q: What is unique about Streamline Summit?

AB: Streamline really rolls out the red carpet for their clients and vendors.  Each year they have a unique theme and provide great events.

Q: Tips for Scottsdale, AZ?

AB: I have never been to Scottsdale, AZ, so I am very excited to explore this town. I have heard so many positive things about Scottsdale.

On Rezfest:

Q: Is this your first Rezfest?

AB: No, this will be my 3rd time attending RezFest.

Q: What is unique about Rezfest?

AB: RezFest gives us the chance to connect with our current Homeaway clients, while meeting new people.  It also gives us the chance learn about the next exciting steps with Homeaway. RezFest offers a great conference experience while allowing time to really mingle with the attendees and getting to enjoy the area.

Q: Tips for Marco Island.

AB: Marco Island is a gorgeous beach town, so take time and get out to explore.  We get to travel to some gorgeous locations so make sure you take time to get outside and see what they have to offer.

Travel Tips from April:

Q: You’re an experienced traveler, how many countries have you been to?

AB: I have been fortunate to go to over 30 countries.

Q: What was your most recent trip?

AB: My most recent international trip was to Australia for RezFest Australia.

Q: Tell us your tips for the novice traveler.

AB: Great question!  I have a few key items that I always do when traveling internationally

Tip #1 –   I try to travel with a carry-on, as I have had my luggage delayed in the past, but when I do have to check my bag, it is important to place a card with your name, phone and where you are traveling to (including airline details) inside your checked luggage – baggage tags can be ripped off and this will give them the chance to locate you and reconnect you with your bag.

 Tip #2 – Make a copy of everything – may passport and travel itinerary, and keep it in a separate location, in the event I lost my documents.

Tip #3 – Be a good ambassador for your country – prepare for long flights, research the location you are going to ahead of time and pack your patience! A smile and a good southern hospitality go a long way!

Be on the look out for April when she hits the road for our September conference schedule. April wears many hats here at ICND, but she’s widely known among our crew as the Director of Fun. However, after reading her travel tips we may have to add another title, Director of Travel! We’re excited to see you on the road!

ICND & Key Data Partnership: Visualizing Vacation Rental Data

InterCoastal Net Designs is excited to officially announce our partnership with Key Data Dashboard. Key Data Dashboard’s products are a natural fit for our vacation rental client base. Their software integrates seamlessly with your Property Management Software to provide real-time insights focusing on the health of your business.

What Can You Expect from Utilizing Key Data?

Key Data Dashboard’s software provides three integral ways to plug into your metrics – performance, benchmark & pacing.

  1. Performance: visualize vacation rental data, instantly! Regarding performance, Key Data provides an instant look at your revenue sources and can get targeted insights per property. Additionally, the software provides a unique geo-targeted heatmap. See exactly where your guests are coming from!
  2. Benchmark:  Keep a pulse on your competition. Key Data’s benchmarking allows you to easily compare how your metrics stack up within your particular market. For instance, did you book more nights than your market competition?
  3. Pacing: Examine future performance as of today vs. last year’s performance as of the same date. Pacing allows you to visualize your revenue and insights in readily available charts.

Demand Data with ICND:

ICND & Key Data’s partnership provides a unique opportunity to enhance the product with Demand Data. ICND will provide Key Data with insight search analytics on a per client basis. We will be able to provide Key Data with unique data such as dates and amenities a guest searches for on the site. Previously Key Data did not have access to this information, however, the partnership with ICND provides a full look at your site’s data and analytics. This allows Key Data Dashboard to provide our clients with a comprehensive view of your site’s performance and how best to market towards your clientele.

What does this partnership mean for ICND Clients?

Key Data Dashboard’s products eliminate hours of reporting and analyzing your data. Our partnership with Key Data presents a very unique offer for our current clientele, making the adoption of their product suite a no-brainer.

Starting August 1, 2018 – all ICND clients can receive Key Data Dashboard for FREE lasting through July 31st, 2019. There’s no reason not to try this software that is sure to be an integral part of your business moving forward.

Contact us today to get started for FREE with Key Data Dashboard. You can also connect with your account representative directly or call 910-575-6095 and reference this offer.

We’re excited to partner with industry leaders and provide this unique opportunity for our client base, and look forward to this successful partnership with Key Data Dashboard.

 

Google RankBrain: Google’s Third Most Important Ranking Signal

In the not so distant past, Google announced their new algorithm  “RankBrain”, making it more apparent that user-focused websites are now more important than ever when it comes to SEO for vacation rental websites.

The algorithm studies the satisfaction of users who land on your website, and promotes sites with higher favorable outcomes for an end user. The actual design and functionality of your website has always mattered, but this information proves that it also boosts your search engine rankings.

So, all in all, an easy-to-use website that is rewarding to the user carry’s ranking weight more than ever!

How Can Your Website Satisfy Users?

First thing’s first, organic click-through-rates are crucial. The first step to analyzing whether traffic is pleased with a website can be based on whether or not the website is clicked often for key search terms. Simply put – high volume of clicks = strong website. A low volume of organic clicks signifies that your website didn’t satisfy the search term entered.

The second portion of RankBrain is the more revelatory piece – the RankBrain algorithm places a high focus on overall user experience. A user leaves your site in less than 3 seconds? Google RankBrain signifies this as an unsatisfactory experience. The content on your website didn’t keep users engaged. Not a good sign. Bounce rate, dwell time and pogo-sticking are key factors that RankBrain analyzes. Bounce rate & dwell time are commonly used terms. However, pogo-sticking is used to describe the process where a user clicks the #1 ranked site and backs out, clicks the #2 ranked site and backs out, finally lands on site #3 and spends time browsing. RankBrain would detect that site #3 provided the visitor with information they liked or needed (and subsequently, may move it up in the rankings.)

On the flip side – if bounce rate, dwell time and pogo-sticking is low (or less prevalent) on your website, Google recognizes that the user had a pleasant experience and ranks your website higher. These measurements are known as user experience (UX) factors.

What Does This Mean for My Website?

Every portion of your website’s development matters. Ranking doesn’t begin and end with blogging, linking and keywords. Your website needs to include the following (to name a few!):

  • Aesthetically pleasing and functional design
  • Seamless programming for user-friendly experience
  • Innovative website tools and fresh features
  • Pertinent and engaging content

At ICND, we think this is pretty cool stuff! It means to us that every member of our team, whether they’re a digital marketing guru, graphic designer or project manager, plays a key role in our client’s marketing success.  It’s not just an “SEO team” thing anymore to rank! Everyone plays a role.

Want to learn more from the experts? Contact us directly!

Sanibel Island Success Story

Blind Pass Condominium: Case Study

 

Client: Blind Pass Condominiums

Location: Sanibel Island, Florida

Property Type: Condominiums & Townhouses

Amenities Offered:

  • Heated Pool
  • Sundeck
  • Poolside Tiki Huts
  • Tennis Courts
  • Complimentary Kayaks & Canoes
  • Private Beach Walkway

Primary Issues:

  • Outdated website, lacking usability
  • Inability to search & filter rentals easily
  • Website wasn’t mobile friendly
  • Website analytics were decreasing in overall users, new users and session duration, with continual decrease
  • High user bounce rate

ICND Solutions:

  • Website redesign with focus on user-friendly features
  • Implemented SEO & PPC campaign
  • Launch mobile-friendly site
  • Blog redesign & management

Customer Results:

Drastic increase in bookings (1125%)

Overall increase in traffic up 18.45%, when compared with bookings increase these statistics prove that the website redesign is a key factor in conversions

Total Revenue increased 1275.45%

Digital Marketing Results (April 2018 compared to April 2017)

Successful Partnership:

Here at ICND, successful partnerships are the reason we’re excited to work for our customers everyday. Many thanks to Blind Pass for allowing us this opportunity and partnering in this case study.

“Great news Team ICND – So glad to see the increased online bookings and some early successes from Adwords.  Thanks for all your hard work on this!”  -Blind Pass Condominium

If your Vacation Rental team isn’t experiencing similar conversions and results from your marketing campaign, please contact us today.

What’s Next for GDPR and Your Website?

On May 25th the European Union officially implemented GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation.) The web design industry has been abuzz with this news for quite some time. At ICND we’ve put in the research and developed tactics necessary to assist our customers with this transition.

There are many moving parts to GDPR, but the three main points are listed below:

Users must consent to the processing of their personal data and companies must explain how data is collected and the intention for utilizing data.

Users have the right for their personal data to be deleted/forgotten.

If a website experiences a data breach, it must be reported within 72 hours.

We know GDPR can be confusing, but for our customers primarily operating and marketing within the United States, this is what GDPR means for you:

Updating Your Website Privacy Policy: We have created a new privacy policy that can be adopted by our customers. This revised privacy policy was specifically developed in response to GDPR, providing website users with more in-depth information on how their personal data may be collected and used.

Readily Available Contact & Data Controller Information: The updated privacy policy needs to include clear and concise contact information for website users. This will assist users wishing to request information your company has about them, correct any of that information or delete the information altogether.

Opt-Choice for Email Marketing: Upon completing a contact form on your website, users should have the ability to opt-in if they wish to receive further emails from your company.

 

Google Analytics Settings: Since personal data is one of the largest components of GDPR, you can choose the amount of time Google Analytics retains data prior to deleting the information. This will not affect standard analytics on your site. Google Analytics presents customers with the following time-frame options for retaining data: 14 months, 26 months, 38 months or 50 months. ICND Digital Marketing customers have already had this completed on their behalf. If you’re using your own Google Analytics platform, you were likely already prompted to decide on this time frame.

 

Please note that these suggestions are precautionary measures. While GDPR does not currently pertain to our customers only doing business in the United States, we feel these measures will keep your website current with industry standards.

Contact our team today to learn more about GDPR and get started on updating your website!

 

How To Get A Video To Go Viral?

By Vanessa Humes

Did you catch the video of the frozen alligators? I mean, who didn’t? It reached hundreds of thousands of people across the world and grew their Facebook followers to over 12,000 likes. Just minutes down the road from ICND world headquarters in Ocean Isle Beach, NC, our clients and friends over at the Shallotte River Swamp Park took a few videos that they’ve been posting on Facebook, and all of the sudden it’s on the DailyMail and National Geographic! Who knew?

Finding the right content

Getting a video to go viral is no easy task. You have to get it filmed, post it online, and pray to the viral gods that it continues to get picked up. But once it takes off it’s going to drive brand awareness, traffic, and ultimately–Conversions.

So what’s it take to make your video go viral like that? With Social Media integrating more and more viral videos in their organic feed, it seems like something we should all be integrating into our digital marketing strategy. But how do we make our videos go viral?

Its about unique content. Generally, it takes an original idea to make it big. There’s generally some copycat attention you can get from doing a related video, but for the most part, it takes an original video. Think about the momma giraffe that was pregnant and we all watched the Youtube feed for months waiting for her to go into birth. There’s some copycats with other types of animals, but nothing that big.

Ok, now you are in the vacation rental business, you really don’t have pregnant animals you can video… But you have amazing animals in your destinations. A lot of the vacation destination is getting into the nature and seeing animals. If you go to the beach and you see dolphins swimming it’s added value to your vacation. Swimming dolphins aren’t the greatest, but jumping herds of dolphins visible from the beach that you get just the right reel of, are. So it goes back to the originality and capturing just that right moment. Have a contest with your guests, millennials love this, to share the best video of their vacation.

The other aspect of the video should strike a chord in the emotion of the viewer. It’s going to make them laugh, cry, jump out of fear, etc. Most people want to share upbeat content. Like with the alligator, it’s all about the cold-blooded reptile surviving the bitter cold weather. Something we’ve never seen or encountered in our cozy, warm homes and offices.

The content should be short, sweet, and to the point. Again, it’s going to be very spontaneous. There may be some editing needed to get there. You’ll lose more than half of your audience before a minute, so cut to the chase.

Going Viral

Once you have your content posted and you see it’s starting to take off, tag or message your local news sources. They like to share in almost any viral video for the traffic and visibility of their social media posts. Once a few local news outlets pick it up, you know you are on to something and can start reaching out to your feeder markets. Those destinations have a good population interested in your area and will likely pick it up too. And really, from there, you can tag any of the big news outlets, but they’ll probably have picked you up. At this point, not only are you online, but you’ve probably gotten some free TV media time, as well.

So managers, get your social media managers out there looking for the right content to get out there. Buy them some quick video software to spruce it up and cut it into a solid reel, and watch your social media presence soar.

ICND Forms Distribution Partnership with Popular BookingPal

Yes, you read that correctly!! We are happy to announce that BookingPal, the world’s largest and most advanced vacation rental distribution platform, has signed an agreement with ICND to be our preferred partner for the distribution of rental listings!!

This is wonderful news for clients of InterCoastal Net Designs because it provides them total access to BookingPal’s extensive network of the biggest online travel websites that include Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, Priceline, VRBO, and other major sites.

ICND Forms Distribution Partnership with BookingPal

Seamless and Efficient Software

Clients of ICND will be able to create listings and connect property data seamlessly, eliminating all manual work. Setup is fast and BookingPal’s reservation and payment processing team is always available to ensure accuracy and support for all listings.

BookingPal provides property managers with the best tools available while furthering the vacation rental industry’s progress in technology. This will result in more direct online bookings, increased conversions and strengthened brand awareness giving property managers the ability to grow their business by capturing the additional market share they may not currently have.

What makes BookingPal worth getting excited about?

  • It’s the largest network of Vacation Rental and OTA Channels
  • Access to Revenue Optimization and Yield Management tools
  • Access to BookingPal’s content optimization specialists
  • Real-time listing quality feedback
  • Fully Automated Distribution Platform
  • Payment Management Services
  • Guest Inquiry Support

“We’re thrilled to have ICND as a preferred marketing partner for property managers,” said Alex Aydin, CEO and Founder of BookingPal. “This relationship will allow ICND to extend its value for their property managers. With BookingPal’s large distribution network and added layers of marketing and revenue management services, ICND clients will have the ability to boost their marketing efforts, get their properties in front of more vacation rental seekers seamlessly, and significantly increase their revenue.”

ICND Forms Distribution Partnership with BookingPal

Benefits of BookingPal

The BookingPal platform offers both managers of vacation rentals and property owners superior revenue benefits by utilizing proprietary products to optimize distribution capabilities including:

The myBookingPal channel manager software toolset provides electronic connectivity between a supplier of rep level and key level properties and 3rd party distribution channels.

myOptimize scores content to calculate listing quality and provide key feedback to achieve optimal channel placement and conversion.

Additional managed distribution services offered through BookingPal include consolidated contracting, consolidated accounting and reporting, additional content syndication services, revenue and yield management tools, consulting, analytics, transaction processing and payment services.

At ICND our commitment to innovation and research has allowed us to assure our clients stay on the cutting edge of their industry. As the preferred distribution partner for InterCoastal Net Designs, BookingPal will connect our clients to the largest vacation rental and online travel agency network worldwide while taking advantage of unique content optimization and their revenue maximization services.
 

 

How To Generate Direct Bookings

How to Generate More Direct Bookings for your Vacation Rental website

By Vanessa Humes

Recently HomeAway has let their customers know that they will be changing the way that leads communicate with companies and owners that list their properties on HomeAway.

As one of the last Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) to email leads and allow direct communication with guests before booking, many Vacation Rental Managers are concerned that they are going to lose valuable lead information.

To many owners / vacation rental companies, they view these leads as part of their marketing plan by integrating follow-up and promotion in their marketing mix.

I think back to hotels in the early to mid-2000s. They often used the OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) like Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline to move inventory. However, they found that they were training their guests to go to these sites for the best deals. (Sound familiar?).

To add insult to injury, the amount of commissions that were getting paid to OTAs made it a struggle to keep their operations budgets in the positive. And I think, in a lot of ways, it drove down the rental rates as the OTA’s insisted on rate parity and getting the lowest bargains to promote on their websites.  Now, these OTAs have a big presence in the vacation rental industry.

To be completely honest with you, there is no perfect solution. But, it’s not all doom and gloom.  If you are a new company, you probably rely heavily on Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) to help you fill your inventory.

But I tell you this, you have to have a strong digital marketing presence, look at the cost per acquisition (CPA) of both guests on your website and on OTA’s, and focus on the lifetime value of that guest — with extensive marketing post-booking to ensure repeat guests.

It’s really all about developing your own digital footprint with your guests.

9 Opportunities & Marketing Strategies to Generate Direct Bookings

  1. Property Brand Optimization

    It may seem really obvious, but make sure the Name of the rental and the Address of the rental are Optimized in the Search Results (or SERPsSearch Engine Result Pages) to send traffic to your website.

    Also, be sure to optimize any features that are unique to that rental. For example, we stayed in a home in the Outer Banks that had the pool table from the movie The Hustler.

    When I couldn’t remember the rental company, I was able to Google the "Vacation Rental OBX with pool table from the Hustler," and it came up in the results.

    Same with the name of your property. Say the rental’s name is "Paradise at Penn Cove," make sure you are Dominating the Search Engines for the name and addresses of each property. Having a good URL structure with the name included will help increase those results.

    Vacation Rental Property Brand Optimization showing SERPs

  2. Mine and inform past leads from OTA’s

    If you are like many of my clients, you probably have a Large Database of leads from HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey, etc. Harvest your leads and store them in an outside database. This can be an export in Excel if you don’t have a CRM.

    Use these databases to enhance your marketing. Make sure you inform your customers that they will save the booking fees (up to 15%) by booking direct on your website. Let them know, for this particular unit, they will get the best deal on your site – guaranteed. Think about using repeat guest specials. What’s their incentive to book with you again?

  3. Invest in an Email Marketing program that allows you to mine your data

    We have a great program that can tap into your historical booking data, help you mine data from previous stays, and help you reach out to people and remarket through PPC and Social Media, your past guests. The message is again, Book Direct and Save, but also Branding.

  4. Make sure you are Generating Leads from your Website

    Request More Information for Vacation Rental PropertyThere are many key points of gathering leads. But the most popular we find on our sites are the "Request More Information" from the property detail page, as well as Send to a Friend.

    Remember, vacation rental guests generally want more information, ask questions, and engage with the company they are going to rent through.

    Vacation rentals have a history of being a little more "high maintenance" than booking a hotel room. People may do a search to find your website to talk with you more, verify rates and best deals, and search out specials.

    Make sure you have all of this information readily available on your site.

  5. Use Remarketing

    Social media and paid advertising (PPC) allow you to stay in front of people who visit your website. You can put tracking on your website (in the code) that stores the pages that a visitor goes to you. Based on the activity, you can serve up ads on Social Media and Display ads through Google’s Ad Network. Use this to increase brand awareness, stay in front of visitors who haven’t converted, and promote deals and sales that can turn a "looker" into a "booker."

    Vacation Rental PPC example in SERPs

  6. Bid on your Brand in PPC

    If you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon find out that not only are OTA’s dominating Organic Search, no longer linking out to your site or promoting your brand on their site, but they are also GOING AFTER YOUR BRANDED SEARCH PHRASES IN PAID SEARCH.

    WHAT?! Sorry, I get a little worked up about this.

    As if your organic search results aren’t pushed down far enough, now we HAVE to bid on our brand names. And we are competing with mega budgets.

    The good news is, if you are that company, you are going to generally pay a lower Cost per click (CPC) than your competitors because you will have a higher Quality Score.

    A quality score is generated by Google by taking a look at the Click Thru Rate (CTR), content of the ad, and content of the Landing Page. You should always be monitoring and optimizing your quality score to ensure you are showing the highest for the lowest possible amount. So those who have a lower quality score, will have a higher CPC and have to bid more than you.

  7. There is still Google Local

    By Google Local, I mean what is known as the "map pack". For many area searches like "Panama City Beach vacation rentals" the map pack will be included below the paid ads, but above the organic search listings.

    There is a science to showing and maintaining rank in the map pack which includes Not hiring a company that does any Black Hat SEO tactics for short term results.

    The best way to get up there (and stay up there) is to have your profile completely filled out and utilize Schema markup in the code of your site. Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users.

    Vacation Rental Customer Satisfaction Survey and Google Reviews link

    You should also focus on Getting Reviews. Ask your happy customers for reviews. We also have a great survey program that helps push satisfied guests to Google to write you a positive review.  The first three stars link to a guest satisfaction survey.  The last two link to Google.

  8. Market Moderation

    What does your doctor tell you? "Too much of anything is bad for you" and "Everything in moderation."

    The same with a good marketing mix.

    Sure, if you are a new company, you are going to rely heavily on getting your inventory rented on OTAs. But, that’s not a long-term marketing strategy. You’ll have a tough time keeping owners if all you are doing is renting through OTA’s. They will think they can do it on their own (even if they are wrong).

    Start with the Basics – an optimized website, email marketing, paid advertising, and social media engagement. As your budget allows, start doing more social media advertising, adding remarketing, and hire a professional company to help you out.

    Our clients that don’t rely on OTAs have historically had better return on investments from their digital marketing. Their customers are trained to…Book Direct!

  9. Think Brand

    Don’t forget the power of a great brand and how you can impact that brand on your guests to come back and stay with you. Think of things like giving swag to stay with them after the trip. Also, think about who your brand is and what your brand messaging is.

    Does your guest know this message when they leave and is it something they can relate with?

    Airbnb does a great job of branding to the millennials which a few years ago, we were told were the most un-loyal generation, ever. Today, we see them embrace a cult-like following to brands like Apple and Airbnb. Think of what you want your company brand to be and embrace it.

There is no doubt, the vacation rental industry is evolving into something it wasn’t as soon as a few years ago. Our messages and marketing need to be strong, more precise, and engaging more than ever before. Long gone are the days of mass-mailing brochures and filling up peak-seasons.

Today, each vacation rental has more opportunity and threats than ever before. However, ICND is ready to help guide you through with a strong digital presence in both your website and your marketing.

Email Marketing: 5 Tips to Success in the Vacation Rental Industry

One of the tools we see that is underused or not used properly in the vacation rental industry is direct email marketing. Often, people consider this to be an “old” tactic or their email itself looks like it is from 2001. However, with the proper efforts, email marketing can be one of the most powerful tools in your vacation rental marketing arsenal. But what makes a good email marketing campaign, or even a good email for that matter? Here are five tips you can use to improve or launch your next email campaign.

Make sure you are mobile friendly. We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips in this little device called a smartphone. If your marketing plan doesn’t revolve around this device then you should look at revising it. Some statistics say that over 60% of emails opened are on a mobile device so your design and methodology should revolve highly around mobile. At ICND we are always updating our custom email templates and improving them for mobile usage. In many ways this goes beyond just pixel size.

Viewing Email on Mobile Device

Have the right focus and goals. Don’t try to make bookings with an email. The point of sending an email is to drive traffic to your website, not to make bookings. Although we can attribute bookings to email campaigns through analytics to show the value and return on investment, this should not be the goal when designing and planning. Because of this, you want to make sure your brand is consistent across the board. For example, if your email talks about a specific vacation rental special, when your buyer clicks through to the website they will expect to know more. Whether that is in the form of rental properties, information about the specifics of the vacation special, or how they can receive the discount in the near future, you will need to make sure they know what to do. Focus on driving traffic and let your website do it’s thing.

Create a message. One thing we suggest with our email marketing is to drive a specific message. Instead of focusing on several different topics in one email, focus on one and really drive the message home. This makes sure that your audience knows what you are trying to promote and will allow you to understand what offers your target audience wants and does not want.

Make it a visual experience. Many emails can be bulky with random images and a lot of text. Though you should follow the 80/20 rule with text to images, make your email a visual experience. Take some time to put your best foot forward with your imagery and select things that really capture what you are promoting. One thing to remember is if your email has too many images, it is likely to be marked as spam. You can also add another layer of spice with colors and fonts. This can be slightly tricky when you are designing for 28 different email clients i.e. outlook, gmail, yahoo, iPhones, etc… so if you get stumped, we are always here to answer your questions.

Testing and measurement. When you are done and have everything just the way you want it, don’t forget to test your email before sending. This will tell you if it is going to look right when the recipient receives it through their email client. And if by some chance it doesn’t look right, a view in browser link isn’t a bad thing to have at the top. Also, don’t forget to measure your campaigns. It is all for nothing if you aren’t measuring how your email campaigns are performing.

You can use http://www.litmus.com to test your email campaigns.

All in all, there are many things that go into creating and executing a successful email. These five points, although valuable, are just skimming the surface when it comes to everything you have to do. So if you want to add or improve your email marketing but some of this just seems a little too overwhelming, reach out to us and we would be more than happy to answer questions and start you off on the path to success with your direct email marketing.