December 28, 2021
The Best Vacation Rental Marketing Tools
Over the past decade, online travel agents such as Airbnb have revolutionized the travel accommodation sector. While listing on an online booking platform puts you in the reach of travelers across the world looking for offerings similar to your vacation rental at your location, it also requires you to pay fees as high as 16%. They also usually cut you off from guest information which has negative impacts on future marketing efforts. Thus direct booking is usually considered to be an important element in any vacation rental’s channel distribution mix. This post takes a look at the best vacation rental marketing tools available to promote your direct booking strategy.
Marketing your vacation rental on social media is even more important when marketing direct bookings. Social media allows you to speak directly to potential customers and direct them to your booking engine. To compete however requires being available on many if not all social media platforms, outcompeting rivals for guests in each and every space. While you can usually reconfigure the same content to fit across the different platforms, it still requires a lot of time and effort to manage the many social media platforms in your marketing arsenal.
Hootsuite is that one tool that allows you to manage multiple social media accounts from a single platform. Draft, schedule, and post content; manage comments; and keep track of post engagement, follower count, and performance from a single dashboard using one tool. You can also easily export and share performance details with colleagues while its calendar view provides you with a simplified overall view. Hootsuite also offers in-dash live support, online resources, and courses taught by social media professionals.
Called an organic search, keywords are the words that your potential customers type into a search engine to find out their options. A search engine (more often than not Google) uses the keywords to come up with the results page with specific and trustworthy websites. Ranking high on search results – ideally the top half of the first page – leads to far higher likelihood that users reach your website and even make a booking. Making sure the digital content on your website contains these keywords is crucial to boosting direct bookings.
Semrush provides customers access to over 20 billion keywords for 130 countries and runs in-depth website audits based on 130+ checks. It can also deliver recommendations to improve search rankings, track and analyze competitor websites and marketing strategies, and even create and track PPC campaigns. All of these factors can help get your direct booking website to appear at the top of search and top of mind of customers.
Did you know that over 33% of direct booking revenue is generated through organic search engine referrals? But given that Google changes its algorithms over 500 times a year, as well as introduces new features and functions that impact the results that appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), property managers need to always keep adapting if they are to master SEO.
Ahrefs is an SEO tool that allows you to see how much search traffic your competitors get, learn which pages bring search traffic to your competitors, study what people are searching for in Google, determine the full search traffic potential of a topic, find critical SEO issues that hurt your website’s performance on Google, estimate the ranking difficulty of any keyword, find out where your competitors got their backlinks, discover your competitors’ ‘linkable assets’, monitor your ranking progress for thousands of keywords, find gaps in your content strategy, and find hundreds of quality link prospects in seconds. In turn, allowing you to stay on top of your SEO game.
A website heatmap is a data visualization tool that helps businesses understand how particular pages on their website are performing. Using a warm-to-cold color scheme, it shows a web page’s performance, with the warmest color indicating the highest visitor engagement and the coolest indicating the lowest. A website heatmap is thus an easy way to get an overall view and understand website performance including where visitors click the most, whether they reach the bottom of the fold, individual web page engagement, and other insights and statistics, without having to trawl through lots of data.
Hotjar is a website heatmap tool that allows you to visualize potential guest behavior, see what they see, discover how they feel, and even hear from them. The in-depth behavioral insights will help you get a leg up on competitor vacation rentals via evidence-based changes and even lend themselves to A/B testing.
5. Google Analytics
Your website plays a crucial role in generating direct bookings acting as the main platform to showcase your vacation rental in detail as well as hosting your own booking engine. Thus, understanding user traffic to your website as well as Google ads performance is important to be strategic about marketing your vacation rental.
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides you with data and insights related to Google and related products. It will help you understand the sources of traffic to your vacation rental website, visitor behavior, and trends across hours, days, and seasons, as well as insight into the performance and behavior of users clicking on your Google ads. These are important understandings that will allow you to better gear SEO and content for greater results with less effort for your vacation rental business.
With 4.1 billion users of emails, it is easy to get lost in the noise. But when done right, email marketing allows you to reach potential guests in their space at their own pace with the appropriately targeted message resulting in conversion. Mailchimp is an easy-to-use platform used by millions of businesses and individuals to send over a billion emails a day. Mailchimp uses your email list to automate emailing and allows you to split contacts into different contents for better targeting. It includes marketing CRM tools such as signup forms, a dashboard of audience data, audience segmentation, and additional features such as predictive insights and behavioral targeting. You can also perform A/B testing with Mailchimp automatically pulling the most successful email to send for the campaign.
All Mailchimp plans include free website and commerce features with all plans to help you build out your online presence. It also provides a free plan with basic features.
7. Facebook & Instagram Ads
Did you know that 1.6 billion people worldwide are connected to a small business on Facebook? Or that 50% of users are more interested in a brand when they see ads for it on Instagram?
With Facebook and Instagram ubiquitous in everyday life, they have become enormous repositories of aggregated data that allow you to target ads by a wide range of criteria, from basic demographics like age and location to interests, birthdays, family status, employment, and so much more. Together with comprehensive targeting, you also have an array of ad types to choose from. From boosting a post on Facebook to stories, videos, carousels, collections, etc on Instagram, you can custom cater to your audience while learning from performance analytics to keep doing better.
8. Google Adwords
Google Adwords is a system that helps businesses reach target online markets through the Google search engine platform and Google partner websites. Based on the keywords and phrases typed by users on Google search, Adword ads appear on the top and right-hand side of the search results page. For example, if you have paid for the ad for ‘vacation rental in Baker City’, it will be information about your vacation rental that will appear topmost on results.
They can also follow users and appear as ads on partner sites that the user visits later. Over time Google Adwords also work the other way round, making users associate your vacation rental business with the keywords they type. Google Adwords also offers great flexibility in targeting as well as which partner websites you allow to host your ads.
You can use Google Analytics to track the performance and visitor metrics of your Google Adwords campaigns.
9. Pay per Click
SEO is key to generating direct bookings but can also take time to show results. Pay per click (PPC) marketing on the other hand can deliver results fast and can be tailored to your budget.
PPC marketing is when you pay only for your ads that are clicked on the platform you are using. They are highly flexible, create brand awareness even if they don’t generate a click, and can yield interesting customer insights via ad analytics. PPC is an important marketing tool and is particularly helpful to new vacation rental businesses.
There are a number of options available for PPC. Google Ads is the most popular and giant in the sector but there is also Bing Ads which provides a similar function for search on the Bing search engine. Adroll is great for remarketing or retargeting, though cost per click can be higher than Google Ads. There is also SharpSpring Ads which works collectively on web, social, mobile, and more.
Special thanks to the marketing team at Hostaway, Rikaza Hassan, Ravindri Malwatte, and Connor Griffiths, who’ve contributed to this article. Read more vacation rental marketing tips from the Hostaway team over at the Hostaway blog. Hostaway’s all-in-on vacation rental software is the leading system for property managers and includes 100’s of integrated partners including Rented.