Category Archives: SEM

We Discuss Search Engine Marketing, Paid Search, SEM and Tricks to Improve Pay Per Click.

We’re so excited! And we just can’t hide it.

In less than three weeks we will be hosting our digital marketing conference July 17 and 18 at Hyatt Regency Chicago. In addition to having an opportunity to connect with our customers personally, we also spend time together learning and teaching each other all things digital marketing.

Engage 2017 brings together a select group of digital marketing experts from the hospitality, finance and retail industry. You will have the opportunity to learn strategies rarely discussed in public forums, and immerse in a full day of learning with co-attendees that represent some of the best-in-class practitioners of digital strategies.

To highlight just a few of the amazing topics we will be discussing:

Google’s Head of Hospitality and Travel, Elizabeth Palomino, will be presenting The 3 ‘A’s’ of digital marketing: Audience, Automation and Attribution, and how they matter in your consumer digital journey.

In addition, Ann Payne from Google will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. It will be an amazing opportunity for you to have your very own Google expert!

And you won’t want to miss Dr. Chris Anderson, Director of the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University who will present his research on how your hotel can actually benefit from poor reviews. How is that even possible? Come and find out!

Along with Dr. Anderson, we are delighted to announce a session by Eric Papczun, President of InnerActivate and former President of Performics, who shall share his thoughts on leadership in digital organizations an area of immense importance as the spend on digital channels grow and brands look for higher ROI from these investments.

Additional highlights include:

• Real-world case studies on Conversion Rate Optimization & Revenue Recovery techniques that can help maximize your digital marketing investment

• Competitive analysis, digital marketing analysis cheat-sheets, including budgeting and audit sheet formats to help you prepare for 2018

• Learn the secrets of Enterprise companies and retailers and how you can apply their lessons

• How do you optimize your digital marketing spend? How do you know that you are getting the best results from your PPC, display or remarketing investments?

We have so much amazing content, we can’t cover it all here. Check out the agenda for more details: https://www.milestoneinternet.com/education/engage-conference.aspx

For a limited time only, the conference is being offered at $595, a $100 discount. And there are still a few hotel rooms available at Hyatt Regency Chicago for the conference rate of $209. For more information:

We really hope to see you there!

Register Now


Source: Paid Search

Is Your Slow Hotel Website Costing You $100K Per Year Or More?

Milestone websites outperform competitors by up to 2,200%

In a new research report, we published our findings on hospitality website performance. The report compares over sixty-five websites developed by 4 of the leading providers of website design and development services in the hospitality industry, the results of which are published here: Breaking speed records: How Milestone websites compare to their competitors. The research showed conclusively that Milestone websites consistently outperform their competitors on several key fronts:

  • Milestone websites load faster: On average, Milestone websites loaded up to 128% faster than the four competitors.
  • Milestone websites appear sooner: Again, compared to the four competitors, Milestone websites rendered nearly 400% faster than the competition.
  • Milestone websites are not as resource heavy: A typical Milestone website was found to be nearly 200% smaller than the competition.
  • Milestone needs fewer files: Milestone websites were found to need 113% fewer files than the competition.
  • Finally, Milestone websites were “ready” faster: in measuring latency, Milestone websites were found to be over 2,000% faster than the competition.

“The need for speed in website design may not be as obvious in an age of high speed internet and 4G LTE,” said Walter Paliska, our VP of Marketing, “the truth, however, is that speed has never been more important,” continued Mr. Paliska. In fact, Kissmetrics data shows that 40% of visitors are likely to abandon a website (mobile or desktop) if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Google’s research backs this up as well. Their findings highlight that more than half (53%) of mobile visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and each 1 second delay in website response means a 7% drop in conversions.

“Website speed is directly related to whether visitors will stay on your site and whether they will do anything on it once they are there,” said Mr. Paliska. Research firm StatisticBrain estimates the average US full-service hotel books about 240 rooms per month. A hotel with an average daily room rate (ADR) of $150 per night could lose as much as $120,000 per year in revenue simply because of a slow website.

According to research by Google, the average US travel and hospitality website can take as much as 10.1 seconds to load – an excruciatingly long time in an age where consumers expect instant load times and experiences that feel “native.”

“At Milestone, we have always focused on beauty and performance,” said Mr. Paliska, “A gorgeous website is great, but it’s of little use if 70% or 80% of users won’t wait around for it to load.”

The full research report is available here and can be downloaded for free. For more information about Milestone and our website development services, customers can visit Milestone at https://www.milestoneinternet.com/verticals/hospitality or can learn more by calling us at 408-492-9055.


Source: Paid Search

Milestone CEO, Anil Aggarwal, recognized as 2017 Owler Top Rated CEO

Milestone, a leading provider of digital marketing software and agency services for hotels, retailers and financial services companies, announced today that its CEO, Anil Aggarwal, was recognized by Owler as a Top-Rated CEO in Silicon Valley. Out of 167,000 CEO’s, Anil ranked #19 with a score of 97.1.

“I am honored and humbled by this award. An award for the leader is truly an award for the entire team because the leader is merely the reflection of the team. So, I congratulate each Milestone employee for this award. Your excellent work and effort is getting noticed by the industry and this award is a testament to that. Silicon Valley has very good quality teams and companies, for Milestone to garner this award is a big “milestone” everyone should enjoy.”

For the first time, Owler is honoring the top-rated CEOs on their platform. CEOs are rated by members of the Owler community, who have collectively contributed more than a quarter million ratings this year. Owler analyzed those ratings, ultimately distributing 1,000 awards to the highest rated CEOs from over 167,000 CEOs on Owler. Winners span from 50 cities and 25 industries worldwide. Anil was in good company, making the list alongside leaders of Salesforce, LinkedIn, and Netflix.

2017 Owler Top Rated CEO Awards provide a complete market view of a CEO’s rating, which includes ratings from employees, competitors, followers, and general Owler users.

Anil has served as CEO of Milestone for XX years, transforming it into a digital marketing powerhouse.

CEOs are rated by members of the Owler community. Owler analyzed those ratings and distributed 1,000 awards to the highest rated CEOs from over 167,000 CEOs on Owler.

“These winners are truly the best of breed: they beat out the other 99.4 percent of leaders on our platform to win a coveted 2017 Owler Top Rated CEO Award,” said Jim Fowler, CEO at Owler.

Congratulations to Anil and everyone at Milestone


Source: Paid Search

Milestone Inc. Receives 2017 Best of Chicago Award

We are thrilled to announce that Milestone Inc. has been selected for the 2017 Best of Chicago Award in the Internet Marketing Service category by the Chicago Award Program.

The Chicago Award Program identifies companies that have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. Milestone was chosen because of our ability to enhance the positive image of small business through service to our customers and the Chicago community. Milestone was recognized, in large part, because, along with other honorees, we help make the Chicago area a great place to live, work and play.

Each year, in and around the Chicago area, the Chicago Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement.

This recognition is a result of our dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in our organization that have helped build our business. Our team is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2017 Chicago Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Chicago Award Program and data provided by third parties.


Source: Paid Search

Speaking Engagement: How to use Social Media to Drive Direct Bookings

AAHOA Town Hall Meeting (South Pacific Region)
Location: BLVD Hotel
10730 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Date: June 7th, 2017
Time: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
Topic: How to use Social Media to Drive Direct Bookings
Southern California continues to be one of the most competitive hospitality markets and hotels are contending for the loyalty of one particular demographic, millennials. We’ll explore ways to properly execute social strategies at your hotel to attract your target audience and achieve the highest ROI.
Speaker Profile: Craig Carbonniere of Milestone Inc. is a 15 year hospitality industry veteran who is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with hospitality clients in Southern California. Prior to becoming a supplier, Craig managed various hospitality disciplines for Grand Pacific Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and The Walt Disney Company. Craig also serves as Vice President of Communications for his local HSMAI chapter and is known as a trusted advisor for developing hotel ecommerce strategy.
Craig has conducted numerous educational sessions for the lodging industry including those for AAHOA, California Hotel & Lodging Association, Anaheim/Orange County Hotel & Lodging Association, Wyndham Worldwide, and other major hotel associations.


Source: Paid Search

[Whitepaper] Recover Lost Website Revenue and Drive a Higher ROI Just Like the OTA’S Do

The hospitality industry spends billions of dollars every year driving traffic to their websites, yet 81%* of visitors leave before completing their booking. This presents the hotelier with two key challenges. How do you reduce the number of booking abandonments? If visitors do abandon, how do you get them back to your site to complete the transaction? Do what the OTA’s do. Implement a revenue recovery strategy utilizing several popular digital marketing tactics. Studies show that one third of visitors to your website start a reservation but only 2% complete the booking. With the average hotel’s conversion rate around 2-3%, maximizing the conversion rate is critical. Also important, enticing that visitor to book direct, rather than with an OTA.

Do these statistics panic you? Well, the good news is that all is not lost. Studies also show that over 30% of customer’s reconsider booking the same day and over 50% within the same week. Sounds like an opportunity, right? Wondering what can you do to increase your website conversions and directly influence revenue and room nights for your property?

The Revenue Recovery Module is one of the most effective ways of directly enhancing your bottom line and driving online bookings for your hotel. By utilizing the tactics below, you can gain back a reservation that would have been previously lost. Download our whitepaper to know more.

Download Now


Source: Paid Search

Milestone Continues Winning Streak with 9 Communicator Awards for Website Design

Milestone, a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance, is proud to announce that 9 client websites have won Communicator Awards. Six website designs were awarded the highest Communicator Award of Excellence and 3 were awarded Communicator Award of Distinction.

Grand Solmar Land’s End Excellence
Mystic Hotel Excellence
Old Edwards Inn Excellence
Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center Excellence
Turf Valley Resort Excellence
Watermark Baton Rouge Excellence
The Chase Park Plaza Distinction
Randy Watkins Golf Group Distinction
Vagabond Inn Distinction

With over 6,000 entries received from across the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals.

The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 600+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current AIVA membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms including: Condè Nast, Disney, Lockheed Martin, Monster.com, MTV, Time Inc., Tribal DDB, Yahoo!, and many others.

“The Milestone team works very hard to ensure that our clients receive the best in terms of design and technology,” noted Walter Paliska, Vice President of Marketing at Milestone. He added, “Our continued recognition is a huge testament to the team’s dedication to developing beautiful, creative websites that convert visitors into customers.”

 

To learn more about Milestone’s award-winning website designs and digital marketing strategies, attend the annual digital marketing conference – Engage 2017 – in Chicago, July 17-18. For more information about this conference, please visit: http://www.milestoneinternet.com/2017-digital-marketing-conference.aspx.

For more information about Milestone’s digital marketing software and services, please visit: www.milestoneinternet.com, email [email protected] or call us at 408-492-9055.

About The Communicator Awards:
The Communicator Awards is the leading international awards program honoring creative excellence for communication professionals. Founded by communication professionals over a decade ago, The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, and interactive. This year’s Communicator Awards received thousands of entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world.

About Milestone

Milestone is a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance. We provide a full range of solutions including website and mobile design, content creation, SEO, analytics and competitive intelligence. Our best in class technology and solutions drive revenue and ROI for clients across the globe. Over 2,000 companies do business with Milestone, including leading hotel chains, major retailers and financial services companies. Milestone has garnered over 300 awards and a reputation for blending outstanding design with advanced technological capabilities. Milestone is one of Silicon Valley Business Journal’s fastest growing companies and is an Inc. 5000 company.

 

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Contact:

Angela Lyons
[email protected]
408.200.7918


Source: Paid Search

If You Missed It: Google Webinar on Monetizing the Customer Journey Now On Demand

Milestone and Google co-hosted a webinar titled Get the Most Bang for Your Buck out of the Customer Journey on Wednesday, May 17. The recorded webinar is now available on-demand for those that may not have had the opportunity to attend.

“Digital marketers are busy, we realize that, and the webinar was a huge success, filled with highly informative content and key takeaways,” said Milestone Vice President of Marketing, Walter Paliska. “We wanted to ensure anyone who was not able to attend has an opportunity to see the webinar at their own pace,” continued Mr. Paliska.

The Milestone/Google webinar focused on three key areas of the customer journey and how it relates to your business:

Micro-moments in the customer journey
The Google and Milestone teams discussed the customer journey and the micro-moments that are associated with hospitality consumers. They also shared critical data on consumer behavior as it related to travel, how consumers choose their hotel and their use of technology.

Strategic takeaways related to the moments
Milestone shared strategic insights at each of the micro-moments to help hoteliers put the micromoments
data within the context of marketing strategy and gave examples of some of the
techniques hoteliers could use to leverage the consumer customer journey.

Real-world examples
The webinar also provided the audience with an opportunity to learn how Milestone clients have benefited from strategies and technologies presented and how they were able to boost conversions, ROI and direct revenue by optimizing their spend in the customer journey.

Watch the webinar on-demand now
Milestone would like to invite those who could not attend to watch the complimentary webinar on demand here


Source: Paid Search

Milestone Launches Customer Communication Initiative

Milestone continues its tradition of excellence in education this week. Kicking off our customer communication initiative was global marketing expert Bill Hunt, his reputation in the SEO industry is unmatched and he has been a long-time partner to Milestone, working closely with our product teams and our customer success organization. He led the team in an extensive two-day discussion focused on effective communication for non-linear themes such as omnichannel strategies. At Milestone, we recognize that many of the strategies we recommend may seem confusing and we know that explaining what we mean well, concisely and effectively is key. Bill worked with our team this week on creating that compelling story that explains the benefits of omni-channel strategies, while removing the complexities.

Bill has also been working with our customer success teams in identifying key opportunities in digital marketing strategies that align with our clients’ corporate goals and objectives and how to continue to effectively utilize the confluence of organic and paid search strategies by identifying opportunities between organic and paid search strategies. Key parts of the sessions focused on the role of OTAs in the digital marketing mix, and on how to map strategies to our customer needs as the market continues to evolve.

Ongoing training from some of the best in the industry is one of the key reasons that Milestone continues to be the leader in digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance, our customer success teams continue to evolve and stay ahead of the technology and marketing curves, to put themselves in an ideal position to serve our customers in the best possible way, which of course, in the long-run, is why we are in business..

About Bill Hunt

Bill is the President of Back Azimuth Consulting, which focuses on helping companies understand the Voice of their Customer via their cloud-based keyword data mining and management platform, which aggregates keyword data into a single web-based application enabling marketers to quickly identify actionable insights into the interests and needs of their target market while helping to eliminate inefficiencies and missed opportunities. Clients include many global brands such as HP, Cisco and the entire portfolio of Pernod-Ricard.

Bill is considered the top thought leader on Global and Enterprise Search Engine Marketing and is an internationally recognized search marketing speaker having spoken at conferences in over 30 countries. Press, industry analysts and corporate leaders frequently seek Bill’s advice to effectively leverage Enterprise and Global Search Marketing and Social Media strategy.

Bill Hunt with Milestone – Chicago Customer Success Team

 

Milestone – Santa Clara Customer Success Team


Source: Paid Search

Google Launches Local Events Search, Milestone is Right There with Them

Yesterday Google announced a new feature as part of their mobile search results capabilities. Mobile users can now find local events happening near them by simply searching for them on Google. This capability is a continuing effort to make mobile devices more beneficial to users as mobile usage by consumers continues to soar.

The new local events feature relies on Google identifying sources of local events data from websites that have events calendars enabled, and that are properly tagged with the relevant schemas. Milestone customers are already benefitting from this new feature if they have Milestone’s Event Calendar feature enabled on their website and populated with local events.

“Staying ahead of the trends has always been a huge priority for Milestone,” said Walter Paliska, VP of Marketing for Milestone. “We were there when schemas became important, we were there when Google AMP was launched, and we are right there now with local events.”

Milestone customers who have purchased and deployed the Events Calendar don’t need to “do” anything to have their properties included in search results. In fact, in preliminary testing conducted at Milestone, our clients are often appearing on page one of local events searches being conducted on mobile phones, simply through the event data that is already posted on their websites. As consumers continue to expand their usage of mobile devices, having access to events and things to do in their area is critical to a successful experience. Location-based businesses like hospitality companies, banks, financial institutions and retailers can take advantage of these opportunities to not only solve real-world problems for their consumers, but also to create exceptional experiences for their customers.

Screenshot of search results for Milestone client The Abbey Resort in Fontana, WI.

Milestone customers who don’t have the Events Calendar feature on their website can add this capability easily by contacting Milestone at 1-408-492-9055 or by email at [email protected] Location-based businesses that are not Milestone customers are also welcome to inquire about moving their properties to Milestone to benefit from advanced technologies like Local Events Listings as well as the myriad of other technological advancements that have made Milestone a premier provider of digital presence solutions for location-based businesses.


Source: Paid Search

Milestone Wins Hermes Creative Awards for Exceptional Web Design

Milestone, a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance, won two platinum, two gold and one honorable mention for client websites at the recently announced Hermes Creative Awards.

The Hermes Creative Awards are an international competition for creative professionals and agencies. The Hermes Creative Awards are administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals and recognize the highest standards of excellence in traditional and emerging media and honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement.

Milestone’s visually compelling custom website designs are created by an award-winning team with extensive website design and digital marketing experience. Built with Milestone CMS, a next generation cloud-based content management system architected for high performance, consumer-facing web sites. This platform has been built around three core principles: speed, mobile first capabilities and compatibility with modern search technologies like voice search and machine learning. Milestone websites are fully responsive, with user-friendly navigation and are designed to drive conversions and generate higher ROI.

The following website designs were chosen for recognition:

Platinum Award: The Chase Park Plaza (http://www.chaseparkplaza.com/) – an historic, luxury boutique hotel located in downtown St. Louis

Platinum Award: Grand Solmar Land’s End (http://www.grandsolmarresort.com/) – a luxury Cabo San Lucas resort at the ocean’s edge

Gold Award: Seaport Boston (http://www.seaportboston.com/) – a Boston waterfront hotel at the heart of the seaport district

Gold Award: Acme Hotel Company (http://www.acmehotelcompany.com/) – downtown Chicago’s trendiest lifestyle boutique hotel alternative

Honorable Mention: Randy Watkins Golf Group (http://www.randywatkinsgolf.com/) – owner and operator of three Mississippi golf courses

“It is wonderful to have the privilege of working with some of the most talented people in the country in my 20+ years of leading Milestone,” said Benu Aggarwal, Founder and President of Milestone. “We are blessed to have committed clients who trust us to utilize the latest technologies and strategies to produce amazing work and I am honored that industry leaders recognize our talent and capabilities.”

To learn more about Milestone’s award-winning website designs and digital marketing strategies, attend the annual digital marketing conference – Engage – in Chicago, July 17-18. For more information about this conference, please visit: http://www.milestoneinternet.com/2017-digital-marketing-conference.aspx.

For more information about Milestone’s digital marketing software and services, please visit: http://www.milestoneinternet.com/.


Source: Paid Search

CH&LA Southern California Speaking Event – Top Ten Trends for Digital Marketing in 2017 and Beyond

Event: Southern California Hotel & Lodging Conference

Where: Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center, 601 W McKinley Ave | Pomona California, 91768

When: Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 12:00am – 12:00pm

CH&LA and AAHOA have partnered to bring the largest one-day conference and trade show in Northern California to the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center this year. Each year over 450 hoteliers attend this special event to get educated on a variety of industry topics and to attend the trade show to see and buy the latest new products and services.

Click Here for More Info

About the Speakers:

Tammie Carlisle is a 16 year hospitality industry veteran who brings an extensive background in hospitality sales and marketing to Milestone where she is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with hospitality clients and industry associations in the Western United States. Tammie has also spoken at several CH&LA and CABBI events and conferences in previous years. Tammie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Craig Carbonniere, Senior Business Development Manager for Milestone, is a 12 year hospitality industry veteran. He brings an extensive hospitality management background to Milestone and is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with hospitality clients and industry associations in Southern California. Prior to becoming a supplier, Craig managed various hospitality disciplines for Grand Pacific Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and The Walt Disney Company. Craig also serves as Vice President of Communications for his local HSMAI chapter and is known as a trusted advisor for developing hotel ecommerce strategy.


Source: Paid Search

CH&LA Northern California Speaking Event – Top Ten Trends for Digital Marketing in 2017 and Beyond

Event: Northern California Hotel & Lodging Conference

Where: South San Francisco Conference Center, 255 Airport Blvd | South San Francisco CA, 94080

When: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 12:00am – 12:00pm

CH&LA and AAHOA have partnered to bring the largest one-day conference and trade show in Northern California to the South San Francisco Conference Center this year. Each year over 450 hoteliers attend this special event to get educated on a variety of industry topics and to attend the trade show to see and buy the latest new products and services.

Click Here for More Info

About the Speaker: Tammie Carlisle

Tammie is a 16 year hospitality industry veteran who brings an extensive background in hospitality sales and marketing to Milestone where she is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with hospitality clients and industry associations in the Western United States. Tammie has also spoken at several CH&LA and CABBI events and conferences in previous years. Tammie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of California Santa Cruz.


Source: Paid Search

ADA Conformity: It’s More Than Just Lawsuits

You may have heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but do you know how it applies to your digital presence?

What is the ADA?

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. As part of the ADA, the law mandated that websites should abide by a minimum set of best practices to ensure that users with impairments would have equal access to the world-wide web. The challenge with the ADA conformity clause is that Congress did not establish any guidelines regarding what qualified as an ADA conforming website. Over the years, as the legal system has dealt with lawsuits related to ADA conformity and website access, courts have leveraged guidelines established by the world-wide web consortium (W3C), as guidelines by which to interpret the ADA conformity of specific sites. The W3C guidelines, known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are organized in three different levels, level A, AA and AAA. The court system has largely held that websites must meet level A and AA guidelines to be considered “conforming.”

Why care about ADA?

The default answer, of course, is legal protection. Over the past few years a series of well publicized law suits have been brought against website owners, particularly small to mid-sized businesses, resulting in awards that range from as little as a few thousand dollars to many tens of thousands of dollars. While protecting your business from ADA lawsuits is a very viable reason to ensure your website is ADA conforming, there is a much larger issue at play. In fact, by not providing ADA access to your website, you are simply alienating the nearly 20%* of US

consumers who have some form of disability. Having ADA conformity on a business website is more than good legal advice, it’s smart business advice.

How ADA Impacts your site

Having established that ADA conformity is a good business proposition, what exactly do you need to consider before making your site ADA conforming? ADA conformity for websites is largely based on four core areas:

Visual How does the website work when visually impaired visitors arrive? Is it screen-reader friendly? Are there elements of the site that are only accessible with a mouse and do not have keyboard access?

Auditory Auditory conformity is largely focused on the interaction of audio and the user. Specifically, do any videos included on the website contain closed captioning?

Tactile Can users access your website without relying on a mouse? Is keyboard navigation of all items on your site, including carousels, possible?

Cognitive Cognitive conformity deals with issues around font size, color, contrast and accessibility for users who may have learning or interpretive impairments.

The ADA Opportunity

The fact that nearly 20% of Americans have some form of a disability should be of significance for any business. The challenge of ADA conformity for your website starts with protecting yourself from lawsuits. In fact, since 2015, in the hospitality industry alone, more than 240 lawsuits have been filed, many receiving awards between $10,000 to $75,000 per lawsuit.** When you consider the cost of updating your site, the benefits of becoming ADA conforming are obvious. There is, however, a second, more important consideration. ADA conformity is more than just about protecting yourself from suits. In fact, a website that is not ADA conforming creates a barrier to the 20% of Americans who have disabilities; becoming ADA conforming is not just safe, it’s good business.

Keys to conformity

There are three key considerations to ensuring that your website is ADA conforming: Technology, process, and design.

On the technology front, the most important question is about your Content Management System (CMS). Is your CMS capable of creating ADA conforming websites? Do you have alert-systems in place in the CMS that will flag when ADA conformity issues are introduced in your site? For example, when installing 3rd party applications website owners should make sure to understand the impact of these additions. ADA conformity is not a “do it and forget it” approach; modern websites are constantly evolving, changing, and being updated. It’s critical to have a CMS that is able to not only create ADA conforming content, but is also able to identify ADA problems in your website.

With the constant evolution of websites, having an ADA-friendly development process is also critical. If your website development is done in-house, you need to ensure that planning and testing for ADA conformity is a core part of your website design and development process. If you work with an agency or a third-party vendor it’s important that your vendor have a well thought out and documented process for creating ADA conforming content and checking for problems.

Finally, ADA conforming design must consider a whole set of subtleties and nuances that might escape the untrained eye. Once again, it’s essential to ensure that your in-house or agency designers understand ADA conformity issues and have had experience dealing with ADA conforming design.

Examples of Issues with ADA

To understand the complexities of ADA conformity, consider a couple of quick examples of some of the subtle changes that must be made to a traditional website to achieve ADA conformity:

  • Skip to content ADA conforming websites must provide a means for a user to quickly skip non-screen-reader friendly content like hero images and jump to the text part of your website.
  • Manual carousel control Website carousels may be popular and fashionable, but they can create problems for users who have disabilities. ADA conforming carousels must be manually controlled and avoid excessive use of animations.
  • Full keyboard control How much of your website can be controlled and used with just a keyboard? Having full access to all content without having to rely on a mouse is a critical part of ADA conformity
  • Screen reader friendliness Is your website friendly to people with visual disabilities? Is your content screen-reader friendly?
  • Field label problems Finally, consider something as simple and, seemingly, straight-forward as a form on your website. While placing field labels within the field may provide a “unique” look, it often makes the form unreadable for screen readers.

Getting certified

You can self-certify for ADA conformity. In addition, there are several third-party organizations that will provide ADA conformity audits to provide you with a full report, either confirming that your website conforms to ADA guidelines as of a specific date, or providing you with an audit of the changes necessary to become ADA conforming. There is no such thing as a “guarantee” that having an ADA-conforming website will provide 100% protection from lawsuits. It does, however, significantly lower your risk.

Summary

The issue of ADA conformity for websites is not new, and is not likely to go away any time soon. Any consumer-facing business, but especially location-based businesses like hospitality, retail, or financial-services businesses, should make ADA conformity a core part of their business strategy and of their website development process. Not having ADA conformity as a central goal of your website strategy, is simply asking for trouble, and sends the wrong signal to your client-base.

* https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html

** https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-face-lawsuits-over-website-accessibility-for-blind-users-1478005201


Source: Paid Search

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck Out of the Customer Journey [Webinar]

Register for the complimentary Google and Milestone joint webinar on optimizing marketing spend in the customer journey.
This webinar will focus on three key areas of how the customer journey affects businesses today:

  • Understanding the customer journey
  • Consumer behavior in each stage of the journey
  • Measuring the customer journey to optimize spend

See how you can measure the direct impact of your marketing programs across the various stages of the customer journey and how to optimize your marketing spend to yield the best results.

Webinar Registration


Source: Paid Search

Drive Higher ROI from Your Website while Competing with OTA’s.

New Milestone CMS feature returns $21 FOR EVERY $1 YOU INVEST IN the Revenue Recovery Module

A hotel operates in an environment that is getting increasingly competitive. At the same time, OTA fees keep rising year-over-year. In such an environment, website conversion rate is always a key indicator to any hospitality business. On average, one third of visitors will begin a reservation but only 5% will complete the booking. In a study done by Sales Cycle*, 81% of people abandoned their travel bookings online. With the average hotel’s conversation rate around 2-3%, increasing conversion rates means directly driving the top line.


While these statistics may seem troublesome, the good news is that there is a compelling strategy that is available to help the situation. Over 30% of customers are willing to book the same day and over 50% within the same week. That’s an opportunity ripe for the taking. Milestone now offers a new feature as part of its award-winning content management system (CMS) designed to directly help business professionals like you take charge and drive higher returns from your existing website.

THE REVENUE RECOVERY MODULE

Our Revenue Recovery Module is one of the most effective ways of directly enhancing your bottom line and driving online bookings for your hotel. It is the only type of marketing communication that remains private while delivering a personal connection to your potential hotel guest. Most importantly, it has an opt-in process that turns it into absolute permission marketing.

1. Reservation Retargeting Email Campaign: Encourages the visitor to complete their original booking.

  • Emails are auto scheduled the moment a user abandons a reservation without converting.
  • Milestone will set up your email account, design your emails and develop your automated email campaigns.
  • Email campaigns are integrated with your booking engine.

Email captured during the booking process which will be used to send retargeting email campaigns to drive back conversions.

 

2. Reservation Reminder: The user can request an email reminder to book later

  • Milestone will develop for you an automated email campaign that are auto scheduled at the request of the user.

Email Auto reminder request

 

3. Reservation Abandonment Promotions: Marketing Promotion messaging displayed when users on your website display “exit intent.”

  • Milestone will develop for you automated site abandonment promotional messaging that will be programmed into your existing Milestone Marketing website.
  • Marketing promotion messages are triggered based on agreed upon settings and visitor interactions determined by client.

Marketing promotion banner

 

STILL WONDERING IF IT DRIVES CONVERSIONS?

We tested these new features on our live customer websites over a period of 2 months to gauge the effectiveness of the campaigns and their ability to drive revenue and bookings and found that hotels could drive a relatively high conversion rate of ~6-8% and a ROI as high as $21: $1.

*Your results may vary **70% would NOT have returned on their own & is completely new business.

Your website is your key branding and eCommerce asset and it’s never too late to take ownership of your eCommerce strategy. At Milestone, we help over 2000 customers drive higher conversions and revenue. To learn more about the Revenue Recovery Module features and pricing, please contact us at [email protected], 408-492-9055 or www.milestoneinternet.com.

*https://blog.salecycle.com/stats/booking-abandonment-why-people-abandon-their-booking/

 

About Milestone CMS:
Milestone CMS is a next generation cloud-based content management system architected for high performance, consumer-facing web sites. This platform allows hotels, retailers and financial services organizations to rapidly deploy and manage websites, location pages and micro-sites with great ease and at a fraction of the cost of existing systems. Milestone CMS has been built around three core principles: speed, mobile first capabilities and compatibility with modern search technologies like voice search and machine learning. Milestone CMS allows companies to build websites that consistently score over 80 on Google’s speed tests for both desktop and mobile, and that are powered by innovative technologies like Google AMP.

Contributed by Gaurav Varma, Product Marketing Manager


Source: Paid Search

HSMAI Oregon Speaking Event: Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends in 2017

Title: Informing Members of HSMAI Oregon Chapter about the top 10 digital marketing trends in 2017.

Event: HSMAI Oregon Chapter Sales and Marketing Meeting

Where: Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97220

When: April 20, 2017, 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Search marketing continues to change and evolve. Learn how to grow revenues using different digital marketing strategies – search, local, mobile, social media and more. In this fast-paced session, Tammie Carlisle, AVP of Sales and Customer Service at Milestone, Inc. will cover ten of the top travel trends in 2017. Voice search and artificial intelligence are just two of the topics that will be covered in this session. You will walk away with practical tips and ideas you can apply at your hotel to stay ahead of the curve.

LINK: http://hsmaioregon.com/meetinginfo.php?id=19&ts=1490989628

About the Speaker: Tammie Carlisle

Tammie is a 16 year hospitality industry veteran who brings an extensive background in hospitality sales and marketing to “Milestone Internet Marketing” where she is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with hospitality clients and industry associations in the Western United States. Tammie has also spoken at several CH&LA and CABBI events and conferences in previous years. Tammie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of California Santa Cruz.

 


Source: Paid Search

Social Media Strategy: How Much to Spend and Where

While social media has become a mainstream marketing channel, there are many variables that hoteliers are not taking advantage of to increase their revenue. Unlike other mainstream marketing avenues, social media is not static, as platforms continuously find ways to increase engagement with both users and advertisers. As social platforms have realized their massive marketing opportunities within their user base, they have increasingly capitalized on their clearly defined users by providing advertisers access to them. Today, the popularity of social channels has created a “pay-to-play” model that leaves many business owners and managers perplexed as to which channels to focus on, and the right budget to allocate in order to maximize return on investment (ROI).

Organic Social Reach is Dead

Social platforms bring the promise of an enormous engaged base, with 78% of all Americans having a social profile. This extreme density of users leads to an oversaturation of content. Social media platforms use algorithms to provide consumers with a better experience by de-cluttering the massive amount of content, highlighting topics and information that is deemed most “relevant” to each user. Facebook began prioritizing popular posts in 2009, and has continued to tweak what users see based on preferences and engagement. In 2015, marketers were faced with a daunting challenge. Facebook announced that business posts would be displayed less often in user news feeds compared to friends’ posts. Today, only 2-3% of posts created by businesses are shown to their fans, a trend that is guaranteed to remain as Facebook has warned the organic reach of posts will eventually decline to 0%. Marketers can no longer rely on creating engaging, relevant posts that will be automatically fed into followers’ timelines, but must rely instead on paid campaigns. As Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels expand on these practices, the need for well planned, well executed and well targeted paid social campaigns will become increasingly necessary.

Reach Your (Social) Customers

Consumers thrive on social media platforms, and tools are available to allow marketers to not only reach, but also to engage with these users in highly targeted ways. The biggest marketing mistake is to think your customers are not using social channels. Facebook alone has over 1.7 billion users. Marketers need to understand which channels are used by their target audience and how their audience interacts with each channel. For instance, a consumer could get dinner inspiration from Facebook on a daily basis, while using Instagram more sporadically to plan future travel. Pew Research Center has insightful research that allows marketers to better understand social platforms and their users. Once you have a solid sense of channels that are right for your business, it is time to identify advertising options to meet your goal. Is your goal to increase traffic to your website? To increase your page followers? Gain video views? Or perhaps you wish to increase engagement within your current followers? Having clear goals will allow you to carefully select advertising options to include in your strategy and assist in budgeting. The following advertising options are traditional for social media marketing and can fit into most social strategies:

  • Facebook Boosted Post – Allows you to get additional reach and engagement on a post. This ad type also includes a page like button, so if people like the content, they have the option to like your page. If you have a special or offer to share, this is a great option for it. Be sure to include a link for more information in your post.
  • Facebook Carousel Ad -This allows up to 10 images to be rotated in the advertised post and drives users to specific sites, pages, or apps. This can be done with a single image as well.
  • Twitter Promoted Post – This is like Facebook’s Boosted Post and it also has a follow button for anyone who wants to follow the business handle moving forward. One key thing to remember is to avoid using a hashtag on any promoted posts. If users click the hashtag, they may not be engaging with your tweet but you will be paying for that click. Instead, focus on the content that matters for you and include links to drive traffic to your site.

The options above are in no way a comprehensive list of social media advertising vehicles. We recommend reviewing social advertising options quarterly, as they are continuously changing, and budget to test the latest methods for reach and engagement. Since there are always new ways to reach your users, flexibility is crucial.

Target Practice

Targeting your preferred consumer has a direct impact on your budget. Advertisers are drawn to social channels due to their targeting capabilities. Businesses can target social users based on location, age, gender, interests, connections and more. Businesses new to social advertising should start broad, relying on the platform’s advertising system to see who responds well to published advertisements- the results may be surprising. The broad targeting can give a deep understanding of the type of users that engage with specific messaging, giving you an opportunity to later target those demographics uniquely. Travel, for example, tends to be a universal interest, so targeting only people that expressly state interests associated with travel will not lead to better results, just more marketing spend. The reason for this, obviously, is that the narrower your target, the larger the cost per action charged by the social channel. Rather than testing for narrow interest ranges, we recommend testing different ad options with varied audiences to achieve the best mix of advertisement and audience demographics. When measuring results, it is also critical to ensure your audience size and your result samples are large enough to make proper decisions. High click-through rates are pointless if the volume is insignificant.

Budgeting for Social

Your social campaigns should target current followers, they should aim to acquire new followers, and should also be used to test out new audiences and advertising methods. A huge benefit of social media advertising is that it is relatively low cost in comparison to traditional channels, making it an ideal platform for testing and measuring engagement. When developing a social media advertising budget, a good rule of thumb is to use 10% of your paid media budget (PPC) on social media. Drilling down further, divide your social advertising budget based on the channels that contain your target customers. Milestone recommends spending 80% of your budget on Facebook, which includes Instagram, a Facebook owned subsidiary. Instagram ads are developed through Facebook’s ad platform, ensuring maximum visibility. The remaining 20% of your budget should be spent on Twitter advertising. Focus your social budget on paid options that will bring reach and engagement. Most of these options still offer a “like/follower” option on the post. A little spend can go a long way. Milestone tested almost 100 of their clients with a $10 Facebook promoted post with excellent results:

  • 1,278% average increase in engagement
  • 456% average increase in reach

Average social media budgets vary by industry and audience size, however, it is common to allocate $1 per new Facebook fan. Salesforce released research regarding social media advertising costs, and the research shows the average cost per click is $0.65 in the United States. Some industries see an average cost per click as low as $0.16.

Targeting impacts your budget greatly; businesses pay more to target a smaller market versus a larger market. For instance, a locally advertised “weekend getaway” that targets audiences within 2 hours of a destination would have a much higher cost than a national campaign for a week-long stay. The reason for this is simply one of demand. Narrower campaigns like the first example require the advertising platform to discard a significant portion of their “inventory” to satisfy your demand. A broad national campaign, on the other hand can be more fully automated and can leverage a broad audience to display the advertisement. Tracking your ROI for individual campaigns becomes very important once you start testing out targeting and new social strategies.

If the social advertising options seem a bit overwhelming, businesses can opt to choose a daily maximum budget or a lifetime budget for social advertising. Choosing maximum budgets will ensure budgets remain constrained and do not grow out of control. Budgets can be set as low as $1 a day, but, of course, lower budgets must also be accompanied by adjusted expectations on results. Businesses fluent in social advertising often put a minimum spend behind each social post, knowing that without a spend the effort to create the post would be fruitless to a small organic reach. When businesses have more valuable content, such as videos, specials, or events, more spend would be suggested to reach more users.

Final Thoughts

There are many paid social advertising options available within the various platforms to begin or elevate your paid social strategy. Brands have seen such success with social media advertising that they have moved their paid marketing budget completely to social channels. Our recommendation is not to transfer your entire marketing budget to social advertising, but to consistently use paid social to increase your reach and engagement, and allow the flexibility to test out the latest targeting methods. The granular targeting capabilities of social platforms ensures paid social will remain a strong advertising channel and necessary for businesses. With the decrease of organic reach of social posts, businesses need to focus as much time on creating their content strategy as they do to promote their content.

Contributed by Nisha Thakkar, Director of Client Services at Milestone Internet Marketing

Nisha Thakkar is a Director of Client Services at Milestone Internet Marketing. She manages a team of seven SEO/Social Media Strategists that focus on the hospitality industry. She also leads the social media practice for the organization. She also manages social media training, paid social, the content marketing team, research, development of new ideas and all strategic social media activities for the client base. Ms. Thakkar works with her team to support SEO strategies and activities for Milestone Internet Marketing clients – including website updates, email blasts, listings management, analysis, reporting, etc. Ms. Thakkar has led a social media webinar for Milestone in 2016 (which is available on the Milestone blog). Ms. Thakkar can be contacted at 408-492-9055 or [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

5 Ways to Be Found – Online & In Real Life – Part 3

To quickly recap, your business has one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline. The challenges you face are that customers don’t know you exist, they are unable to engage with you and they can’t physically find you. There are five steps you can take to begin the process of ensuring your business is found. Steps 1, 2 and 3 were discussed last week. This week we finish up with steps 4 & 5.

  1. Encourage reviews and gain trust

Having a presence in local directories and maps is a good start, but you want to go a step further to stand out from your competitors and gain the trust of your customers. Begin by putting images on your profiles. Nothing is more compelling than visual elements that showcase your business’s physical location. Letting your customers see who they are doing business with builds a level of comfort.

Interacting with consumers on social networks takes this even further by giving a voice to your brand. Show customers that you care and stand behind your products and services. Similarly, paying attention to what people say about you on review sites is also important. While positive reviews are always preferable, use negative reviews as an opportunity to build more trust. Reply thoughtfully and accurately to any concerns, showing consumers you care about their experiences.

While the benefit of trust is obvious from a human standpoint, there is also a benefit for search ranking. While the exact impact is debatable (and likely changes every year), as Local SEO Guide points out in its 2016 Local SEO Ranking Factors, “things like reviews and photos and having an Owner Verified (OV) profile correlated with positive GMB performance”.

Pro Tip: Utilizing commonly occurring words in reviews about your business (or your competitors) is a great way to come up with fresh content for your website. Common themes among paying customers are likely to be important to new customers too.

  1. Website structure

Tips one through four have focused on enhancing your presence everywhere but your website. However, to close the loop and really present your business in the best way possible to people and search engines, take some time to check on a few key elements of your website.

Start with the same critical NAP information you use for directories and maps. Make sure your business contact information is easy to find on the site. Put it in your footer as well as your contact page. Formatting this information with structured data (schema.org) helps to ensure that search engines also understand exactly who and where you are, and makes you more likely to rank well in voice search.

Verify that the content on your site supports the enhanced information you share in your listings. Do you talk about your business category anywhere? Are there sections of the site that discuss your unique selling points and value propositions?

And finally, make sure that your website provides a strong mobile user experience. Nothing derails a potential customer like clicking to your website on their phone only to discover they can’t actually see anything on the site or navigate without squinting and stabbing at tiny links that don’t go to the right places. Since Google announced they are moving to a mobile-first index, having the right structural elements like title tags, heading tags, and schema on your mobile site is potentially even more important than having them on your desktop site.

Pro Tip: Google offers a great free tool that analyzes your site and gives you tips on how to improve both mobile and desktop friendliness.

Measuring success

So you’ve done all the legwork and addressed the challenges. How do you know that it is positively impacting your business? Are you truly meeting both search engine and customer needs to drive more traffic to you?

Having a strong local presence will result in your business getting more online visibility for a variety of searches, as well as more phone calls, more clicks on Google for directions, and more people in the door. One of the simplest ways to measure the increase in impressions and phone calls is through Google Search Console and Google My Business Insights.

The Search Console shows over time not just how many clicks your website is getting, but how many impressions you receive in search. A person doesn’t necessarily have to click to become a customer: if the search result shows the information they need to be able to call or find you that is a win even without the click. Google My Business Insights take that one level deeper and actually track the number of times people click for directions or to call your business directly from your GMB listing.

Screenshot of an upscale boutique hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square district.

The GMB and Search Console typically only show data for up to 90 days, so you’ll either want to export data regularly, or use a tool like Milestone’s NAPtune that allows you to store your data so you can see bigger trends over time.

Once you have made the effort of creating a strong and accurate presence and are tracking your success, continue to drive those customer interactions by monitoring your presence and making sure your information remains updated wherever it can be found. The Internet is not a static document, so make sure you have a plan to monitor and maintain your business data across the web. Ensuring consistency through ongoing monitoring and updating of your profiles builds trust and awareness with search engines and people. Accurate information when customers want it, wherever they try to find it is the key to getting them in the door and winning their business.

If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected].

For an easy to read PDF of this blog series, download the white paper5 Ways to Ensure Customers Find Your Business.


Source: Paid Search

5 Ways to Be Found – Online & In Real Life – Part 2

Last week we discussed the challenges for businesses that need to be found both online and offline. To quickly recap, your business has one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline. The challenges you face are that customers don’t know you exist, they are unable to engage with you and they can’t physically find you. So how do you ensure your business can be found in all the right places by search engines and people?

Have no fear! As daunting as those challenges can seem, when planned carefully in advance, there are clear paths to success. Here are five simple steps to ensure your business can be found:

  1. Create a database of accurate and consistent business information

The traditional vital pieces of information about your business are name, address and phone (NAP). However, as searchers and search engines become more savvy, additional pieces of data like your website URL, business category and hours of operation are equally important.

The first step in your process to being found is to make sure that inside your organization you have 100% accurate and consistent information about your business. This way no matter where that information goes, you can be sure that consumers are seeing the most accurate information available.

Pro Tip: Validate your street address against a national standard, like the United States Postal Service. Formatting it correctly in the first place can prevent errors down the line with directories that may use different standards from your internal organization.

  1. Clean your presence

Once you have your master set of accurate information, the next step is to find out where your business is already listed online. Gain access to those listings, fix any errors, and enhance the listings with quality images and content. Taking over existing listings is better than just creating new listings for a few reasons:

1) Creating a new listing without addressing older ones can lead to duplicate pages that confuse potential customers and the search engines

2) If anyone is already using the older listings, you want to enable them to keep doing so, but with more accurate information

3) While it may be a small factor, older URLs do tend to have a bigger impact on search rankings than new URLs.

You can find existing listings in a variety of ways. The simplest is to Google your business name and see what comes up. For more detailed analysis and deeper search into quality listings that can impact user behavior, you can use a listings management search tool like Milestone’s NAPtune.

Pro Tip: If your business changed its name or phone number, remember to search for that previous information as well. You don’t want old listings coming back to haunt you or your customers.

  1. Publish new listings in critical data amplifiers

Not all business listings are created equal! Since every customer is unique, you need to make sure your business is represented well in any place users can find you – from search engines, to maps, to mobile apps, to in-car navigation systems. While that could mean having to find and manage thousands of listings, a more efficient way to go about it is to identify the key data amplifiers – the handful of sources that collect business location data and power the rest of the internet.

By focusing on having correct information in these core data amplifiers – like Google My Business (GMB), Facebook, Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, Factual, etc – you can be sure that your accurate data is being pushed through a complex set of websites, hitting all of your key customer journey endpoints.

Screenshot of listings being managed by NAPtune

Pro Tip: While data amplifiers are a great way to spread your information exponentially, make sure to also build direct relationships with the directories/apps that your customer base uses most to ensure timely, accurate updates.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s post which will cover more solutions to the problem of being found online and offline.

If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected].


Source: Paid Search