Clearly, new media marketing can serve a range of functions for your organization. This is one of the reasons why deriving concrete returns on these efforts—such as marketing campaigns intended to simply raise awareness of a brand—can be challenging.
We had the chance to sit down with two professionals from the hospitality industry who frequently initiate new media marketing campaigns and evaluate their impact. Lauren Levin, Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Sbe Entertainment, and Greg Bodenlos, Marketing Manager for Revinate discuss how they determined the success of their efforts for the brands they were serving.
As a digital strategist, how do you assess the returns on your tactics?
Levin: So as a digital strategist, the way that you assess whether one of your marketing initiatives fails or succeeds is very important. And there’s about a million different ways to evaluate your initiative. Return on investment, return on advocacy, return on engagement, look to book, purchase intent, I mean it’s endless.
So what’s really important is not only assigning those metrics to a certain medium, but to the specific initiative and having some leeway. So I’ll give you an example.
Email is one medium, and I use it in a couple different ways. So I have properties that send their own email, a single property email to their past guests. They’re allowed to do that once a month. The second email that you would receive would be from Sabre Hospitality Solutions Hotel Group, and that combines the database of all our hotels and it’s a newsletter.
So my metrics for that Sabre Hospitality Solutions Hotel Group newsletter are different than my single-property email metrics of success. On a single- property email, I use ROI because I am expecting revenue. The hotels are mailing their past guest lists an offer or a package, usually–they’re trying to bring people back. And so in general, yeah, I’m looking at the bookings and room-nights it generated.
But for the brand newsletter, I’m trying to build a lifestyle brand. We own hotels, restaurants, nightlife. Sabre Hospitality Solutions is thought of as a cool company and so we don’t want to have a newsletter of a million different promotions and be totally self-promoting and it can be confusing. So what we do is create more lifestyle content, interesting articles that people might like to read, cool pictures. It’s more about creating that attachment with the brand than just straight-up bookings. So I look at clicks, open rates, time spent on the blog that the email drives to. Versus–and I do look at ROI, I do look at room nights and revenue, but it’s not as important to me, so that’s not as big a factor.
And my next blast I’ll look at, ok, video did really well, let’s do another video in the next one. Versus with the property where I’m like, okay you guys, we didn’t really have a strong marketing message or call to action. It’s better to say from 365 than 15% off, I mean that’s all that kind of stuff you talk about with a property when you’re launching a property email.
So the important thing to know is just choose it before you launch and, again, don’t be totally strict about it because you may find that it’s doing great for the brand but not revenue and vice versa. So be open to looking at all of them.
Bodenlos: When it comes to measuring your success, measuring a return on investment, your return on engagement, your return on advocacy, you know, each can be approached from a different angle, but the first part is, what are your goals and have your tactics achieved those goals? That’s from a high-level perspective.
The first step in trying to improve ROI, ROE. Once you then get those goals established, and then you have the tactics and the metrics, the tactics in place in order to achieve those, there are a litany of tools you can use to try to measure the success. In terms of hard dollars, Barbara Pezzi from Fairmont Raffles Hotels has done a lot of studying on attribution, on the attribution model, and being able to use Google Analytics to link your social media posts to hard dollars.
So for example, if you are sharing a deal or a special promo on Facebook or Twitter, you can include a Google URL that’s specialized, that will then be able to go back and see if that link was–you can track the path to conversion with that link, and that will be able to tie some hard dollars to your social media efforts. But from a return-on-engagement perspective, it comes down to again what I was speaking about earlier, using tools like Simply Measured to benchmark against your competitors and know that by building a stronger relationship with a handful of your brand advocates, you are doing something that is impacting spend at your hotel. It may be difficult to prove at this time, but it is something that is having an impact in the long term.