Driving quality traffic to any website – whether that is organic or paid – is fundamental to its overall success. We take an in-depth look at Google’s paid advertising platform and how it has become one of the mainstays of holiday park digital marketing.
Used in the right way, parks can measure return on investment (ROI) from Google Ads and get instant targeted search engine placements.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a method used by many companies to drive traffic to a website. What was once limited to simple text adverts appearing on a Google or Bing search page, over the last couple of years this type of marketing tactic has been transformed. There are now lots of different advert types; better audience targeting and a myriad of the digital platforms your ads can be viewed on.
The overarching principles of PPC remain the same – you pay to have your park advert appear in front of a particular audience. Depending on how much you are prepared to pay for those clicks and how relevant your advert, keywords or content is – will determine if your advert is shown.
But the advertising space is no longer limited to basic Google or Bing text search results. For example, you can use PPC to display your park advert at the start of a relevant YouTube video, appear on a local tourism related website, or retarget people that have already visited your park website.
PPC advertising is the perfect tool that gets your holiday park in front of consumers at the time and place they are looking for information. PPC search ads are particular useful to attract highly motivated website traffic – i.e. those that are either searching for a holiday or are indeed ready to book. Paid search adverts are therefore one of the top digital channels for parks to use when guests have an intention of converting.
With direct online bookings likely to continue to rise in 2022, any park that uses a well-researched and designed PPC campaign alongside their organic search engine optimisation (SEO), should see an increase in traffic and conversions to sales.
How does PPC work?
Pay-Per-Click Search Adverts
Simple text search ads are an effective way for parks to outrank their competition and drive quality traffic to their website. These paid for adverts appear in different positions throughout the organic search result pages. You can bid on keyword terms or themes and the cost is determined by the competition, quality of the ad, landing page and matching keywords.
Each time your advert is clicked, a small fee is paid to the search engine.
In the example Google screenshot (below) using the search term “lake district holiday parks” you will see how prominent the paid search adverts are within the search results – and how far the organic search results are down the page!
- The top paid section can display 4 or 5 advert slots – and you will notice that they can even include expanded adverts for a single paying advertiser.
- Google is also displaying a set of suggested links from 3rd party partners and options to search holiday availability via Google Hotel Search
- Google local results – are displaying the most relevant businesses for the location (*TIP – optimise your Google My Business profile to gain visibility here)
- Organic search results – a display of up to 10 listings that Google deems to be the most relevant to the search.
Why PPC is important for Holiday Parks
Many parks will be relying on their organic search presence to generate most of their website traffic – but that can take time and resource to optimise content for specific search phrases.
A pay-per-click advertising campaign on the other hand can be set up very quickly and deliver measurable results in just a few days.
Here’s some other reasons why PPC can be a great online marketing tool:-
- Its’s Fast – you can drive traffic to your website very quickly – and turn it on and off like a tap. Create an account and start generating traffic within a matter of minutes.
- Google Ads is flexible – so you can adjust your campaigns in just a few minutes. You can run different campaigns to match the seasonality of your park business and ensure you get exposure at very specific times only.
- It’s measurable – if you link up your Google account with conversion tracking you can measure exactly which keywords and adverts convert the best. Optimise your ads and website content based on this knowledge to continuously improve your overall park web presence.
8 Ways to use PPC to increase Holiday Park Bookings
PPC is a great tool to market your holiday park. Here are a few strategies to increase direct park bookings:-
1. Improved search visibility in a matter of days
Attaining consistent high positions in the organic search results can take a considerable amount of time, resource, and investment – particularly when the competition is strong. However, even the smallest of parks can compete on a level playing field with PPC. If your campaigns are optimised and managed well, you can often outrank the bigger groups and even pay less for the privilege.
2. Promote your park special offers
There are going to be times throughout the year when you will need to promote specific offers or on-park activities. Organic SEO for these types of searches is just not feasible – so here is where PPC can support your immediate marketing aims. Why not use PPC for short periods of time to advertise your special offers and holiday home sales.
3. Wave a flag when customers are looking
PPC is the perfect tool to ramp up when you know that your potential guests are likely to be searching (or more importantly booking). You will be aware of the busy times around the holiday calendar when you get the most booking enquiries. These are the times to invest more in PPC and ensure your park is highly visible. And if you know which adverts convert the best – then these are the ones to use.
4. Sell last minute bookings
PPC is such an immediate marketing tool that it is perfect for promoting time sensitive events like last minute bookings and special offers. For example, if you know that you have the odd camping pitch to fill this weekend you can create a campaign that targets just searches on mobile devices – on the basis that touring campers are likely to be using a smartphone rather than a laptop.
5. Target the audience that fits your park
Regular digital marketing can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to sending the right message to the right type of person. However, the audience segmentation tools within PPC enable you to target specific groups of people for example by their: – location, device used, age, parental status, gender and even time of day they are online.
6. Test and optimise your website content
Do you know which key phrases your guests use that result in bookings? You can use PPC to identify exactly which key phrases convert and then use that learning to optimise your website content.
7. Crowd out the competition in the search results
You can take up more search engine real estate by running a PPC campaign – when someone searches for a keyword related to your park, PPC gives you another chance to get another mention of your park
8. Remarket to previous website visitors
Your previous website visitors have a good chance of becoming a future holiday park guest. With PPC remarketing tools you can target people that have not only visited your website – but also visited a specific page. So, if you have a Spa on your park for example you could be targeting people that had visited your gym and spa web pages and show them a specific sponsored advert.
9. Challenging the OTAs
OTAs like Hoseasons, Booking.com and Pitchup can be great for improving the visibility of your park and increasing your overall bookings. However, using their services comes at a cost – and inevitably a loss of brand control.
If you want to increase direct bookings, then it is important to have an OTA strategy. If you find the OTAs are bidding on your park name for example, then you could do the same and challenge their ads. It is more likely that your adverts will appear above the OTA’s ads – but it is also important to ensure your ads stand out compared to theirs.
Make sure you focus on your unique selling points and highlight the reasons for booking directly with your park.
Using Google Ads for the first time
It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all the different settings and options you can choose in Google Ads. However, things have moved on quite considerably in the last year or so and Google have added in several tools for the layperson to use its platform more easily.
• SMART Campaigns – designed to accommodate those completely new to Google’s various advertising platforms, or those who have zero time to manage their ads, bids, keywords, and reporting. Set your business goals, input your budget, and specify your location, then your ads are ready to launch. Smart campaigns detect search phrases that are relevant to your business, fine-tunes your bids and shows your ads to potential customers who are searching for what you offer.
If you are happy to go a long with Google’s automated bid system and have limited control of your campaigns – then give SMART campaigns a go.
• Responsive Ads – are Google’s largest and most flexible search ad format. Unlike traditional search ads, where you write your headlines and descriptions together to create 1 static ad text, a responsive search ad can have up to 15 different headlines and up to 4 different descriptions. Collectively, those headlines and descriptions can be arranged in thousands of different permutations, which means the ad testing possibilities are nearly endless!
Google automatically tests different combinations of headlines and descriptions and learns which combinations perform best. Over time, your responsive search ads will serve the best message to different searchers depending on the keyword they search for, their device, their past browsing behaviour, and other signals.
Different Types of Google Ads and when to use them
There are several different types of ad campaigns within Google Ads:-
1. Search – text adverts on Google search results
2. Display – image ads on websites
3. Video – video ads on YouTube
4. App – promote your app on different channels
5. Google Hotel Ads – drive customers to book a holiday
Google search ads are the text ads that you see within a Google search engine results page. An advert can appear either at the top, above the organic list of results or at the very bottom of the page.
Ideal use of Search Ads:-
Search ads are best used for getting your park in front of people that are ready to book. By using keywords with a “buying intent” you can reach potential guests when they are searching for your park. For example, target keywords such as “devon holiday park half term” and you will attract people that are looking for a half term holiday.
Tips for using Search Ads:-
• Make sure the copy in your adverts is compelling. You don’t have any way of embellishing these adverts with an image or moving video – so it is down to the quality of your copy.
• You only have a limited amount of text to play with, so write concisely and try and steer clear of generic phrases.
• Try a branded “park name” set of ads to ensure your park has maximum impact within the search results – regardless of the competition or OTAs.
• Use Dynamic Search ads. To save time and effort in managing a long list of relevant keywords, Dynamic Search ads uses the content of your website to automatically create a set of adverts.
• Use Responsive Search ads. Similar to Dynamic Search Ads but you have more control over adding headlines and description and Google will work out which combinations work best.
Display – image ads on websites
Display ads are a relatively new type of advert format that allows you to target specific keyword themes but display an image advert instead of simple text ads. Your display adverts can appear on other websites, in Gmail or within apps and video clips.
Ideal use of Display Ads:-
Display ads are a relatively new type of advert format that allows you to target specific keyword themes but display an image advert instead of simple text ads. You can create lots of different image formats and your adverts can appear on other websites, in Gmail or within apps and video clips.
Tips for using Display Ads:-
- Display Ads can help you reach potential holidaymakers when they are early in the buying cycle and increase your brand awareness.
- Simply upload your image assets and then choose your ideal audience such as age, gender, household income or interests. Google will figure out the best combination of them and automatically generate your ads.
- Use the Google Display Network to maximise your reach – let Google choose the most relevant websites to display your adverts on.
- Attract similar visitors to those that book. Google has a very clever method called “Similar Audiences” that allows you to display your adverts in front of other people that match the online behaviour from your retargeting campaign.
Video – video ads on YouTube
YouTube was bought by Google back in 2006 and is often described as the second largest search engine in the world. With over 2.3 billion active users worldwide (and a major platform for the younger Internet user) there is quite some potential to be had here. You can target YouTube viewers whilst they are watching online – your video ads can be placed before, during, or after a YouTube video and in the search results.
Ideal use of Video Ads:-
Like Display ads, you can target people based on their age, gender and viewing interests. Choose a “in-stream video ad” that has a 5-second timer before a viewer can skip to the full YouTube clip or partner this with Display ads for maximum impact.
Tips for using Video Ads:-
- Be specific with your audience targeting. Ads that focus on a narrow audience type tend to do much better than a wider generic one. Create multiple video ads for different audience types to ensure you maximise your reach.
- Keep your ads short. Play rates drop off significantly after 45 seconds so make sure you include your key message early on in your videos.
App – promote your app on different channels
If you have an app for your holiday park, you can promote it across most of Google’s advertising network including search, Display Network, Google Play Store and YouTube. Simply set up your ad with some text, a starting budget and a link to your Play Store download page and Google will automatically create a set of ads for you.
Ideal use of App Ads:-
Apps ads are best used to encourage people to download and install your app or carry out a specific action within it.
Tips for using Video Ads:-
- Google’s advertising platform relies heavily on machine learning, so don’t be surprised if your adverts take a little while to gain traction. It can take 5-7 days for an advert to have sufficient ad views before Google’s auto-optimisation kicks in.
- You can add different assets to your adverts – and Google suggests at least one landscape image, one portrait video, and one landscape video. Google will then test which one performs best and displays them more often.
Google Hotel Ads
Google Hotel Ads are advertisements specifically for hoteliers, holiday parks, holiday rentals and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). These types of ads display the availability and rates in Google Search and Maps.
When you search in Google for a hotel, camping or holiday resort, there is a good chance that you will be able to book a stay and compare prices between the organic results or under the Google My Business Listing.
Ideal use of Google Hotel Ads:-
You can reach more customers by showing availability and prices through Google Hotel Ads when potential customers are looking for your park or a stay in your region. Your ad will only be shown when there is availability on their desired arrival and departure date. As a result, you will often get higher conversion rates and lower costs per conversion than most traffic sources.
Some OTAs run Google Hotel Ads for their holiday park customers, but you can do this independently. You can send customers to your park website to book directly or have them book on Google. You will then only be charged when someone clicks on the ad or when someone books a stay.
Tips for using Google Hotel Ads:-
- First set up a feed for your prices and availabilities from your booking system or channel manager.
- Create a Google Hotel Centre account to send and manage your hotel rates and availability across Google. Connect your prices and availability to your ads. Link your Hotel Centre account to a Google Ads account.
- You are now ready to start advertising your hotel in Google Ads. Give your campaign a budget and set what you want to pay per click or booking. You’ll get the same rich reporting available across Google Ads.
With multiple campaign types and different Google ads options available, holiday parks should be able to choose the right ad format for their business.
Here are a few key takeaways for running Google Ads:
- Make sure Google Analytics is set up and connected to the business’s Google Ads account to see how well ads are performing. Partner this with Google Conversion Tracking and a 360-degree view of the website, sales conversions and Ad campaigns can be obtained
- Dynamic Search ads are a great option for those who don’t have a lot
of time – they make managing keyword lists much easier
- Responsive Search ads get the most reach of all ad types as Google learns which adverts work best for the business
- Don’t always run with broad match keyword phrases. Using broad matching keywords is an easy way to burn through a lot of budget very quickly. Stick to exact and phrase match keywords and campaigns will be more targeted and more profitable
- Use negative keywords to filter out keywords the park do not want to target
- Split test adverts – set up at least two adverts per campaign and test to find the best performing advert. Once found, create a second advert based on the first and test again
- Improve ad copy and the content on the corresponding landing pages and improve the Quality Score. Increased Quality Score = lower cost-per-click and higher ad position.