How Content Can Cure Your Skyrocketing Search Marketing Budgets

Rising Costs

Digital search marketing began its life as a truly low-cost alternative to print, with the ability to put out display ads that cost you pennies per click and to stuff your site full of relevant keywords and links that would game search engines and put you near the top of the results. As Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have gotten savvier, those avenues have faded into the background, replaced by more honest organic traffic and more expensive advertising.

Google is one of the major culprits here, as you’d expect. With more than 60 percent of the market share in search, recently rising cost per click rates across the board, and a conscious decision to limit local results and punish sites who either do not pay to advertise or don’t have a great mobile presence, the search giant is effectively forcing companies to pour real resources into website improvement and advertising. This despite the fact that cost per click advertising as a medium hasn’t become any more effective as prices rise.

Confronted with this, you essentially have three choices:

  • Hold your nose, pay more for ads, and hope costs stabilize in the coming years.
  • Lessen or abandon your paid budget and focus on optimizing your website.
  • Use a portion of your ad budget on content, which creates more organic (and lasting) engagement.


The Content Approach

You can’t abandon PPC and traditional advertising completely, but you can limit your spending with an effective content strategy. Through years of developing content for hotels, we’ve found this makes for a solid start for any hotel. It’s about building the “house” of content, then using your outbound communication tools (email campaigns, social media, partner sites, etcetera) to get people to that content. When all is said and done, content can touch your guests at every point in the booking cycle, taking someone who is completely unaware or disinterested in your hotel to then book, but then also maintain contact with them after their visit to turn them into one of your biggest advocates (online reviews) and repeat guests.

  • Identify the appealing attractions and events in your destination, not just your hotel. You need to develop content consistently over the course of years, and there’s only so much you should try to say about your comfy beds. Users will value content you deliver about the destination because it comes from you, a trusted source.
  • Decide whether you want a dedicated, magazine-style content hub (typically, a blog site or blog within your existing enterprise site) or you’re simply going to develop punchy content for social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. This will influence the time, money, and direction of your content development, something on which we end up working closely with a lot of clients.
  • Build a distribution strategy. Ideally, you’ll send content-based email campaigns and disseminate stories and images through social channels and potentially feed that content to travel sites.
  • Identify who is going to develop this content, carefully weighing whether you would turn to a content marketing agency like us or a smaller, local outfit near your resort and attractions. If you need consistent, on-brand content multiple times per month, you may not want to hand the keys over to local freelancers who don’t have the experience with SEO, strategy, and design built behind every word they write.
  • Once you have all the pieces in place, decide your frequency and your cadence and keep an editorial calendar to ensure your content production is on track. Revisit your strategy on a quarterly basis to get perspective on what’s worked and what hasn’t (through Analytics) and to ensure you’re staying on-brand.


The Benefits of Content

Though there is definitely a significant time investment on your part when you’re developing your content strategy, over the long haul, you’re developing content that belongs to you (even if a team like Hawthorn is developing it for your brand), requires fewer dollars than traditional advertising, and offers the opportunity to win over guests in a more organic way. It can also reward you with huge ROI, like our client who saw a 4,545 percent return on investment on their content efforts thanks to savvy distribution.

When you consider the versatility of content – email campaigns, social media, print collateral, and even boosting the effectiveness of online ads – and the fact that 71 percent of marketers reported success in lead generation and brand engagement with content last year, and you have compelling reasons to build content into your search strategy.

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