Save Money and Build Relationships with Direct Digital Marketing
By Brian Deagan
Despite unpredictable economic conditions, one truth endures for the hospitality industry – there is always room for improvement to the guest experience. In tough economic times, improving the guest experience is a worthy investment because the seeds of loyalty blossom into a strong relationship when the spending freeze thaws. In ideal economic times, competition peaks and the key differentiator guests evaluate when determining where to spend their time and money is the experience. Positive statements about “improving the guest experience” are a constant in marketing meetings – but how? When resources are scarce, but investment in the guest experience is paramount, an efficient and accountable approach is vital. The most modern, effective, and accountable approach for improving the guest experience is found in direct digital marketing.
Direct digital marketing is a digital marketing method that delivers relevant marketing communications that are addressable to individuals through the primary online channels of email, Web, and mobile using an email address, a Web browser cookie, and mobile phone number, respectively. Hotel guests value personalized, relevant interactions whether they are on property, reading an email, booking a stay online, or reviewing a text message.
Two elements are necessary to properly execute the type of direct digital marketing programs that appeal to guests.
- First, avoid perpetuating organic market inefficiencies by seeking individual relationships for email, onsite targeting capabilities, and mobile marketing. The right direct digital marketing software partner must have multi-channel campaign delivery and management capabilities.
- Second, the content and campaign execution capabilities must live in the same software platform as the data environment. More, that data environment – usually referred to as a universal profile management system – must be designed specifically for direct digital marketing programs. Centralizing all important marketing data into the same on-demand software the content is in enables the truly unique segments and message targeting capabilities guests consistently respond to. For example, building a segment that takes a guest’s email activity, website browsing behavior, mobile interaction, past stay data, and preferences into consideration is ideal for creating a personalized and memorable guest experience.
A few examples illustrate the dramatic improvements to the guest experience and the basic business value possible with a data-powered, multi-channel direct digital marketing strategy.
- Because online booking is the entry point for a transaction, the booking process must be smooth and easy. However, the booking engine still provides an opportunity to up-sell by offering a shoulder stay package – without disrupting the mandatory ease of the process – using onsite targeting technology. Onsite targeting transforms formerly static space on a webpage into a “live zone” capable of rotating dynamic content based on information like a website visitor’s browsing activity or preferences. If a guest indicates their stay will end on a Friday, use a live zone to offer a discount for the guest to extend the stay through the weekend. If a guest indicates their stay will begin on a Monday, use a live zone to offer incentives for the guest to arrive during the preceding weekend. Using direct digital marketing, a shoulder stay package is easy to setup and maintain for the marketer, but it also delivers value to the guest.
- The email channel is most frequently used for building loyalty by virtue of its importance to the prospective guest. But traditional messages and uses of email have grown stale and consumers are becoming less responsive. Direct digital marketing’s data-driven foundation transforms a stagnant email approach into a valuable eConcierge program for guests, demonstrating a guest is not an afterthought once they have booked a room. An eConcierge email program delivers three emails to a guest at regular intervals once they have booked a room. The first email welcomes the guest, the second educates them on amenities and events in the area they may have an interest in, and the third email is an up-sell. Each of the three emails contain smart content based off of known or behavioral data about the guest captured in the universal profile management system. For example, email number one can be a personalized thank you from the property manager while email number two can offer discounts to an on-property restaurant. The final email is ideal for demonstrating an understanding of an individual guests needs with a link to quickly book a tee time at a golf course or an easy room upgrade. Providing every guest with access to an automated, smart, and measurable eConcierge program successfully leverages the email channel to enhance a guest’s experience.
- Check-in and check-out are also key components of the guest experience. Simple mobile programs like an express mobile check-in and an express mobile check-out significantly reduce the amount of time a guest is forced to wait in line, opening up time to explore the various amenities available on-property. As guest mobility increases, the ability to communicate with them while they are on-the-go is increasingly important. Providing the opportunity for a guest to sign up for text message alerts while on-property is another way to open a convenient communications channel with a guest.
The benefit of direct digital marketing’s cost-savings for the marketer, and the multi-channel message consistency for the guest, are self-evident. A single channel program is easily implemented, but the complete value of direct digital marketing is unlocked when each channel works in tandem, powered by a universal profile management system designed to deliver on high guest expectations. Strong guest relationships mean fewer beds to fill.
The three examples outlined here are only a brief introduction to how an effective direct digital marketing partner will positively impact the guest experience. The emphasis on marketing data centralization with a universal profile management system – and the data’s proximity to the content – facilitates better marketing execution, new levels of message flexibility and relevance, and the best possible experience for each individual guest. The era of data and channel fragmentation is rapidly concluding – to the betterment of marketer and guest alike. Data-driven direct digital marketing opens the door to redefining short-term goals and building long-lasting, profitable relationships.
About the author: Brian Deagan is the thought-leader behind direct digital marketing and co-founder and CEO of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company. Contact Deagan at bdeagan (at) knotice.com. For more information about Knotice visit http://www.knotice.com or their blog http://lunchpail.knotice.com.