Do you do any sort of pay-per-click management for the online travel vertical? I recently attended a Google AdWords Webinar about online travel trends which they based on a ComScore study of 50,000 UK web users. Our Google rep sent me a copy of the ComScore study which I have used to bring you my top ten useful tips for running a travel PPC campaign.
- Nearly half of all travel searches are brand related; can you afford to miss out on all this traffic? 36% of people who buy holidays use a brand search first and use a brand search immediately before purchasing so bid on branded keywords in your PPC campaigns
- Use day parting for PPC; people are 30% more likely to purchase a holiday on a Monday or Tuesday. Increase your bids then to capture this traffic and lower them at the weekend. Only 7% of purchasers buy a holiday on a Saturday.
- Get them early; 15.9% of purchasers buy their holiday from the first site they visit. Only 1.6% will buy immediately, but around 14.3% will return at some point for a conversion. Forget what you’ve learnt about the buying cycle; bidding on keywords that customers use in the research phase can get you a 15.9% conversion rate!
- Make sure your URL’s are memorable; 35% of transactions occur without a search on the same day. These people must’ve seen something they liked then gone away to think about it. Make sure they can remember where they were.
- Destinations aren’t as important as you think. 45% of online travel purchases are made without a destination search. Of course this means that 55% do use a destination related search term but I used to think that just about everybody would search for their destination at some point.
- Save some money for January. For the last few years there has been a massive peak in travel searches every January. Look on Google Trends with the travel query of your choice. Or don’t; trust me, there will be a peak in January.
- Ad variations are always a bit of a mystery. Test everything. Once I misspelled “hotels” as “hotsel” is an ad which turned out to have a (statistically) significantly better CTR. I thought I’d found something great so I rolled similar variations out across other ad groups. A few weeks later I checked to see what was going on, using splittester to judge which results were significant. Some ad groups it was better, some ad groups it was worse. I have no idea why. Test everything all the time.
- Most purchasers will visit your site at least twice before purchasing; make repeat visits more likely by including new and interesting content for them.
- Be patient. You’ve made all these changes, but on average it takes 29 days between first search and transaction for a holiday buyer. 30% of purchases occur more than 6 weeks after the initial search.
- Don’t want to be patient? Want to get the 17% of users who purchase after only one search? Then ideally you’re from easyjet, ryanair or some other well known airline. Branded searches tend to convert quicker (63% of single search transactions are branded) so build your brand if you want the shortest gap between click and conversion
I only got to look at the study this week so there hasn’t been time to see if all of these tips really work. I’ll let you know if any big surprises come along as I collect more data.
Update: We have now published a travel SEO article which looks at how to target searchers at the right stage of the buying cycle.