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Why Google isn’t the 800-lb. gorilla in Lodge marketing anymore

While this article is largely aimed at marketing directors, the struggles they encounter in driving prospects to their businesses using the internet are very similar to the struggles experienced by sporting lodges, outfitters, guest ranches and inn owners. That is... how to attract high-quality prospects to their websites so they have the best chance of turning website visitors into clients.

This article by Daniel Yomtobian on IMedia Connection addresses the challenge and offers some excellent ideas for getting in front of more prospects by looking beyond Google—very necessary as good search rankings get more competitive and harder to come by.

I will make mention here, that the stats Daniel gives, placing the percentage of businesses NOT taking advantage of email marketing at 64%, is actually much higher in our experience. In the sporting industry, that percentage runs over 90%, and in the bed & breakfast and inn industry, it runs over 75%.

In a recent survey by MarketingSherpa, the majority of marketers named their biggest marketing challenge as generating high quality leads. Tight budgets and a need to show quick ROI certainly add to the quandary.

Why is lead generation so problematic? A couple of factors come to mind.

  • Technological advances -- your potential customers can block out any offers they don't wish to receive
  • Poor website experience -- if your site content is not properly aligned to your prospect's life cycle, you lose out
  • Ineffective use of internal marketing database -- segmentation is key in tailoring your messages. Keeping contacts up-to-date is basic, yet often overlooked
  • Sticking with traditional marketing methods -- it's so easy to stay with what's worked in the past even if it's no longer working well

Google campaigns alone may fall into the last category. Despite the fact that costs can be astronomical and the competition is fierce, some marketers still believe if you're not on Google, you don't exist.

In a tough economy ROI is critical; it makes sense to widen your horizons. Opt-in email targeting, alternative pay-per-click (PPC) networks, and social media marketing are worth a closer look.

Opt-in email targeting

Google recently introduced Interest Category Targeting for AdWords. Typically an ad in Google's display network only appears if it's relevant to content on the page. With the "Interests" feature, advertisers can target users on other sites based on their behavior and overall interests.

Opt-in email is similar. Advertisers have the ability to reach people who've "raised their hands" to see ads based on their overall interests. Many people actually want to see ads that align with their passions. Email publishers can offer high-performing, high qualified customer lists. With opt-in email, your future customer has been highly qualified and is a red hot lead.

In a recent survey we conducted, lead generation professionals responded that third party opt-in email is considered the most underutilized platform for lead generation. Sixty-four percent noted that they had not yet utilized such campaigns.

Alternative PPC networks

Diversifying your traffic from Google results allows you to monetize alternate traffic sources at a lower cost-per-click, ultimately delivering a potentially higher ROI.

Search marketers have the opportunity to work with alternative PPC providers. Many alternative networks are made up of smaller and niche websites that do not receive Google ads, so they bring an audience unsaturated by your competitors. That allows for a greater return on your investment.

These PPC ad networks find success in numbers by aggregating traffic from across their network of search and content publishers, serving paid links when a user searches for a relevant term. Taking your ads beyond Google and Bing is a win-win as it provides a lower cost-per-click and allows marketers to pay less while ranking higher in search results.

Social media marketing

A whopping 93 percent of brands are doing some type of social media marketing, according to a recent BtoB Magazine study. Perhaps not surprisingly, most are focused on the most popular channels including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tips for getting started with lead generation in the social arena include pushing out a steady stream of useful content coupled with clear calls to action. Content creation can be time consuming (hence a challenge for some resource-strapped departments), but the attention you can attract is worth it. A call to action that you can track ("join this LinkedIn Group") is essential for understanding your progress.

So, as a specialty lodge owner, or outfitter/guide, are you using one or more of the Google alternatives provided here for your lodge marketing or inn marketing? Care to share how it's working for you?

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