Forty percent of marketers feel that calculating return on investment is their biggest challenge when it comes to using marketing analytics, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, only 44 percent of marketers are actually able to measure their ROI from using analytics.
Only one-third of chief marketing officers are using analytics because they aren’t able to measure their ROI, according to Salesforce. But that is a disservice for a business’s bottom line, said Tammie Carlisle, assistant vice president for sales and customer solutions for Milestone, a digital marketing company.
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“A lot of CMOs are using their gut feelings to make decisions in the absence of hard facts. But if you have access to data, why would you do that?” she said during a recent webinar titled “Using Data Analytics for Competitive Positioning” hosted by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
The reasons for using marketing analytics are clear, she said. They provide for one version of the truth, improve data and knowledge security, allow for faster information gathering, equal less workload for staff and provide better insights.
The challenges for using marketing analytics are also clear, she said. There are too many sources to gather data. There’s no common structure, and they provide different time intervals. Most importantly, no revenue gained from their utilization means no ROI for owners.
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“If you’re not able to calculate revenue, you’re not able to calculate your ROI,” Carlisle said. “Just because you start a social media strategy doesn’t mean you will drive $1 million back to the hotel. But if you start a campaign, people will see you and come back to you. The question is how do you track that?”
Although it can be difficult to measure the ROI, Carlisle said the process is still important to drive revenue. Using analytics can lead to competitive benchmarking and provide valuable information to marketers and owners, including:
- knowing where your hotel leads and trails by comparing your digital footprint across data points within seconds;
- providing key performance indicators via custom reports without much effort;
- setting forth a digital health check by spotting problems in your digital ecosystem before they can affect revenue; and
- providing a local health check to make sure customers can find you by spotting bad or incomplete listings.
“When you have everything flowing into one system, you’re able to spot check and find things before they really impact revenue,” Carlisle said. For example, she said somebody might accidentally load a 10 megapixel photo onto a hotel website that will slow down site speed. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that site speed is a factor in search rankings with the ability to negatively affect traffic.
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She said digital marketing is like a jigsaw puzzle. To start the puzzle, the front of the box is often needed to see the picture.
“You can’t get a visual feel by dumping the pieces out for what this picture will look like. You start with the corners, then the edges, then you start slowly filling in the different pieces of the puzzle until you have it pretty much done. And you start to get a picture of what this is going to look like without those last 30 pieces,” she said. “To me, digital marketing is the same way. You want to have a good idea of where your missing piece is so that you can fix it and so that you and the search engines can see the whole picture.”
How to Start
For hoteliers who aren’t using marketing analytics in their strategies, Carlisle said to start with the basics by using Google Analytics.
“Are you tracking traffic, but also conversions? Are you able to see how many people checked your rate and does that flow through to the booking engine?” she said.
Carlisle said most third-party booking engines have the ability to track via Google Analytics to give a picture of where revenue is coming from.
If hoteliers have an independent website, she suggested starting a conversation with the team who works on the site. They should be able to answer questions and provide insight into the site’s analytics. If hoteliers are relying on a branded hotel’s website, brands can provide metrics and details and help their members or franchisees understand the data and how best to use the information for marketing purposes.
“Then, you need to take that information to improve your revenue,” Carlisle said.
She suggested hoteliers look to ThinkwithGoogle.com, a website developed by Google with information, articles and research for everything Google-related.
“You can play around with it. If you’re not doing things on their list that will build awareness, you can learn how to start,” she said.