Where Are Your Paid Ad Budgets Going?

This year RealTech wants to help you make strategic and impactful decisions for your rental business. We want you to stop wasting your hard earned marketing budgets in two of the most popular advertising platforms today, Facebook and Google Ads.  There are many advertising platforms, including these two, that are willing to take your hard earned money and let you waste it in their system. These platforms can be a money pit or a gold mine. Here’s how to know if your marketing budgets are being wasted.

Facebook Advertising

Targeting the right audience to increase efficiency

Are you putting hundreds to thousands of dollars into your Facebook advertising each year? If so, do you know who your audience targets are and why you are targeting them?  Are these audiences relevant to your business or industry? Are they actually inclined to travel to your area?

Without optimized audience targeting on Facebook, your money could be spent on anyone who feels like clicking on your ad at that moment without any real intention of ever traveling to your location or booking a reservation.


Marketing budgets

With the right audience targeting, you can turn Facebook into an efficient part of your marketing strategy. Building an audience of past and future guests along with directly targeting those most likely to visit your area, creates a long-term recipe for success. Since social media has a different core purpose than search engines, it takes a different methodology to tap into its revenue potential.

Here are some tips to get more out of your Facebook advertising.

Using Your Consumer List

Your customer list is one of your most powerful pieces of data. It encompasses all of your past and present guests. This allows you to create a list of Facebook users that match the same criteria of your past guests such as demographic information, interests, and a number of other variables. You can use this list to create a solid follower base for your Facebook presence.

Website Audience Targeting with the Pixel

Your website audience is the most real-time accurate snapshot of your customer base.  By leveraging the Facebook tracking pixel on your website and targeting users that have visited it, you can generate more bookings at a lower cost. Utilize the pixel to make sure your ads are getting to the most relevant consumers when they are engaged with your brand and product.

Geo Location Targeting

Geo-targeting your Facebook Ads will allow you to have better control over where your follower base comes from geographically The smaller the ad budget, the more important correct geo targeting is for your overall profitability. It makes the most sense to start building your follower base from a state or metro area whose residents regularly visit your destination. For example, a Hilton Head Island, SC property management company who has a small ad media budget should spend all or most of that budget targeting visitors from Ohio, as that is a location that many HHI vacationers come from. Growing an audience by following this example will also increase the engagement from users in strategic target market versus creating a follower base that is made up of say followers from Oregon. Facebook will allow you to spend all the money you would like on targeting followers from Oregon, but your east coast rental business may never see one revenue dollar created from it. Be smart and know where your guests are coming from and use the power of Facebook to create a following from top converting locations.

While the Google Ads platform is powerful, it can also be overwhelming and spend marketing budgets without any clear return.

Google Ads Tips

Google Ads is another platform where we see an incredible amount of wasted marketing dollars invested. While the Google Ads platform is powerful, it can also be overwhelming and spend marketing budgets without any clear return.

Due to it’s challenges, we recommend speaking with an expert before investing. There are many ways that we see people buying clicks that are never going to lead to a reservation at your business.  

Here are some tips that will enable you to make smart decisions, lower your cost per acquisition and increase return.

Keyword Bidding Match Types

If you are not targeting your keywords correctly then you could be getting charged for clicks on search terms that are not truly relevant to your business, location, and will not convert.  Google makes it very easy to add different keywords. There are three different match types to select when adding keywords:

Google recommends starting off with broad match types.  We do not agree with this because you will quickly run through your daily budget and there is more than enough available data and expertise that can point you in the right direction of which keywords will produce a return instead of having to pay extra costs to figure that out.  We recommend starting off with exact match targeting of your top performing keywords and then expanding into phrase or broad match if needed.

Check your search terms and make sure that you are not paying for clicks for ads that are showing up for search terms not relevant to your destination. This is pretty common with broad match bidding. One example we have seen is a Florida property management company bidding on “Puerto Rico vacation rentals”.  This information will not be available in the Search Keywords tab, it is in the Search Terms report in the Keyword section of the platform.

Additional Tip:  Do not try and use ads to sway people to visit your destination from another destination, it will not work, you will not convert and it will be a waste of time and marketing dollars.   

Geo Location Settings

This is another area where you can end up spending your marketing budget targeting users in places that you may not want your ads to show.  If someone searches for your destination, you want to make sure that your ads are showing to users in locations where they are most likely going to book a vacation with you.  If you are a vacation rental company in Florida, the odds are that the majority of your guests are going to be from the east coast to Midwest. It does not make much sense to target ads to those looking for a Florida vacation in the Southwest US as that area converts poorly compared to other areas of the country.  

You do not want to spend your marketing budget paying for clicks from Arizona when you may not be servicing all those that are searching for a Florida vacation in say New York, your top converting location.  Your media budget is much better spent trying to gain more visitors from New York than Arizona and you may increase your ROI significantly by correctly targeting the right locations.

Google’s default setting for targeting in a campaign is the entire United States and we do not recommend using this setting. Analyze your customer data, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console to understand the top converting locations that your users are coming from and only pick the first 4 or 5 top converting states to target depending on your ad media budget.  

A key setting to enable during this process, found in the location options, is to make sure that your targeting is set to “people in your targeted locations”.  The Google recommended targeting option is “people in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations”. If you choose this option it will not work because when searching for travel we have specific intent to add destinations into the keywords so if you target a keyword “lido key vacation rentals” for example and you set this ad to only show in Georgia, but do not change the location targeting settings from the default, your account will still service ads to users that may not be in or from Georgia.

Optimize Your Ad Schedule

People are on the web all day and all night, but let’s be factual, someone visiting your site at 4 am on a Saturday or any other early morning is not going to be purchasing a vacation at that time.  Conversions really tend to decline after 9 pm and are pretty much non-existent from 2 am to 6 am. Your ad budget is much better spent trying to gain additional users to your site at 2 pm on a Wednesday.

It is important to understand your converting user’s habits from the treasure trove of available data in your Google Ads account.  When are the best-qualified users looking for a vacation rental? What day and time are your conversion rates the highest and when are people booking?  This information is easily found. Make sure to run an ad schedule that is the most productive and cost effective for you. This will help you increase your return and get the most from this platform.

We are Facebook and Google Ads experts and know how to get the most return from these platforms.  We want to help you make sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck and not wasting any money.  If you are currently running advertising in these platforms in house or are thinking about doing so, please reach out and let us know.  We would love to assist in a free audit of these accounts and provide some feedback and direction to you. We can also manage these services for you and get them turned around and profitable.

About Chris M

Chris has been part of the RealTech team since 2012, and is currently the director of Online Marketing at RealTech. When he's not doing keyword research or digging into Google Analytics, you can find him on the golf course or mountain biking in the vicinity of our Asheville office.

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