Marketing focus shifts towards monetizing across all online channels at once
Interview with Dustin Bomar, Sr. Director, Demand Generation at Hilton Worldwide
By Ritesh Gupta
Over the last year or so, travel companies have rationalized their approach towards their online marketing expenditure, increasingly focusing on operating efficiency to ensure that various distribution partnerships achieved their spend ratio targets.
It became imperative for each marketing program to be evaluated in terms of the potential ROI it delivers, the certainty of that return and the timing of it.
So which is the best way to prioritize resources be it for SEO, SEM, PR, brand marketing, social media, CRM etc?
According to Dustin Bomar, senior director, Demand Generation, Global Online Services, Hilton Worldwide, while all are important pieces of a consistent brand message, there are certain elements that are fundamental to doing business online that the company initially prioritizes.
“SEO, Brand SEM, and CRM are all critical parts of marketing any online business and these foundational elements will be impacted by all other online marketing tactics. When we are in the marketplace with banner advertising, we see increased traffic and performance in SEM and SEO. To run a display campaign without a sound search strategy would be limiting its effectiveness. The approach has shifted towards tracking all marketing touch-points and monetizing across all online channels at once and not each in a silo,” said Bomar, who is scheduled to speak at the Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA conference, which will take place in Miami (2-3 June).
Marketers say the sustainability is more dependent on the amount of spend one has and how long they would be able to invest in a specific program and still remain within budget. They then prioritize programs based on those metrics and implement only the most efficient ones. That is one of the reasons that, from a media channel perspective, advertisers have been moving away from print advertising and focusing more on online channels.
On this, Bomar says, “We haven’t shifted budget from offline channels to online. However, we do continue to grow our online presence without drifting away from traditional media. As convergence between online and offline marketing continue, I expect budget fluidity to also increase.”
It is being increasingly propagated that the time of pure branding campaigns will pass by and integrated communication, in terms of messages and media channels, will become key for success. Some companies say they have been increasingly adding tactical sales messages to most campaigns.
Bomar says, “I think it’s a very smart approach assuming it’s done in the right context.”“When we develop and launch branding campaigns we fully expect the impact to be felt in direct booking channels where it may be appropriate to include a tactical sales message. At the end of the day, branding campaigns are done in hopes of increasing customer awareness, preference, and ultimately to drive sales. If there are things we can do to get us to the ultimate goal of driving sales we should be doing it regardless of initially defined campaign type- branding or DR.”
Acquisition and Retention Plans
Customer acquisition is essential to any business. In tough economic situations, where budgets are limited and spending is curbed, it is more efficient to retain rather than acquire customers. It is also highlighted that customer acquisition should be focused as close to the point of purchase as possible, to ensure that whatever product offered is as relevant to a potential new consumer as it can possibly be, thus increasing the probability of acquiring that customer.
Bomar says because of the global economic crisis, user behavior has changed to a longer booking window, more comparison shopping, more research, etc.
“Because of that shift in consumer behavior our acquisition plans have changed to mirror the new booking path,” Bomar said.
“We have not moved away from traditional media and it continues to be a fundamental part of how we operate. Traditional media is increasingly adapting new technologies causing the definitions of traditional and online to blur. As technologies continue to improve, I expect content to increasingly converge causing less separation of "traditional media" and "digital media". It will simply be "media" consumed in a similar way but distributed via multiple methods,” explained Bomar.
Increasing reach of Facebook
Facebook reached an important milestone for the week ending March 13, 2010 as it became the most visited website for the week.
On how the power of social media is expected to nudge ahead of some of the traditional online travel booking and planning channels especially with integration of real-time feeds from Facebook and Twitter on search engines, Bomar mentioned that measuring social media by itself and in comparison to other online channels is an antiquated measurement tactic.
“These social sites have a huge, engaged audience and determining their place in the booking process and within the overall marketing universe will continue to help us define the nature of our presence on these social sites. Also, social media is continuing to evolve with Twitter ads, booking engines on Facebook pages, etc. further helping advertisers engage their audience in the right way,” Bomar said.
Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2010 Conference
Phone: +44 (0) 207 375 7197